WATERLOO, Ont. - Alyssa Lagonia
, a third year business student at Wilfrid Laurier University, has achieved what few Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) players have; a spot on the senior national women's soccer team.
"To be able to play with people I have looked up to my whole life is surreal," commented an enthusiastic Lagonia on playing for Team Canada.
The midfielder made her debut on March 5th, 2009 for the senior national team at the Cyprus Cup against New Zealand in which the squad earned a 1-1 draw. The team also picked up a 2-1 win against the Netherlands. Lagonia played a total of 60 minutes between the two matches.
The midfielder started her national team career with an email from under-20 head coach Bob Birarda. He asked the then 19-year-old to come and try out for the team being sent to the Four Nations Cup in Chile. Of the 23 players in camp, 20 were selected to the team and Lagonia was one of them. Withdrawing from her studies for the fall term to practice with the under-20 team in Vancouver, the dedicated student returned in the winter and summer terms to complete her course work and remain eligible for the 2009 CIS soccer season.
On balancing academics and her soccer career she says “It just comes naturally now. I’m currently on two teams (Toronto Lady Lynx & Waterloo Hawks) and will attend any national camps that come up as well taking business classes.”
After playing in the Four Nations tournament, the Business student returned to Chile to represent her nation in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Although suffering an ankle injury during training camp, the midfielder helped setup the team’s fourth goal against the Congo and played in the final 20 minutes against Germany.
Alyssa’s hard work for the Under-20 team paid off when she received a phone call to come and try out for the senior national squad. On making Team Canada, the midfielder was overwhelmed as she is the only CIS player on the roster, with all the other players having played in the United States college system.
The differences between competition with the U-20 team and the senior squad were immediately apparent to the 19 year old. “The senior team’s game is faster and more physical than in the under 20 matches.”
She credits her coaches Danny Stewart of the Toronto Lady Lynx and BARRY MACLEAN
of Wilfrid Laurier in giving her the opportunity to try out for both the U-20 squad and senior team.
“He’s done so much for me,” commented Alyssa when asked about MacLean’s influence on her career.“ I met him when I was 11 or 12, at the local soccer camps in the area. He recruited me to come to Laurier and was instrumental in getting a chance to try out of the under 20 team.”
As Team Canada works hard to qualify for the 2011 World Cup in Germany, Lagonia commented on their chances. “We’re currently ranked 11th in the world and I have high hopes for our new coach and the new system for Canada.”
Team Canada’s next game action will see them travel down to the United States in July to take on their national team, which is ranked number one in the world, in two matches. The friendly games will assist the squad in achieving their goal of qualifying for the World Cup by providing them with some high caliber competition.
The Kitchener native follows in the footsteps of three other players who have also played for their respective sports senior national teams. Cheryl Pounder and Amy Turek have both represented Canada in Women’s Hockey and Helen Stombos in Women’s Soccer.
In closing, Alyssa commented, “I love Laurier and I can’t wait to get back on the field with the team.”