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Living the dream: Wood enjoying fifth year playing soccer at Acadia


WOLFVILLE - Carrie Wood wasn’t happy with the way her soccer season ended last year. That’s why the Axewomen keeper made the decision to return to Acadia for a fifth year – and one more chance at gold.

It seems to be a good decision so far. The Coldbrook native, who will graduate next spring with a biology degree, has turned 2014-2015 into the most successful - and satisfying - season of her Acadia career.

Wood and the Axewomen competed for the AUS championship this past weekend in Halifax. A year ago, Acadia defeated second-seed Dalhousie in the semifinals to reach the conference final, only to lose 3-0 to top-ranked Cape Breton.

“Last year, we put so much into our semifinal with Dal,” which Acadia won 2-1 in overtime, “that by the time we hit our third game, we had nothing left to give. We played our very best, but it wasn’t enough.”

The team “had a lot of momentum coming out of last year,” Wood said, but at the same time, “we weren’t happy with second place, and with how the season ended. I made the decision to come back and try to improve on that.”

 

Playing with a focus

Acadia placed fourth in a competitive conference this season with 22 points on five wins, seven draws and just one loss, their final game.

“We knew we had already made the playoffs, and we wanted to be fully healthy and rested,” she said. “Winning or losing wasn’t that important. It was almost like we needed to lose to get it out of our systems.”

Individually, Wood more than justified her decision to return for a fifth year. She allowed just five goals in 10 games for a 0.50 goals against average, second in the conference. She was also second with a .937 save percentage, and her six shutouts tied for the conference lead. Of Acadia’s seven draws, five were scoreless draws.

Asked the biggest difference in the Axewomen from when she started, Wood cited “the tactical and technical awareness of the game – knowledge that’s allowed us to come together as a team.

“We always had talented players, but we lacked depth, and not everyone bought into the system. Now it’s right there in front of us. We just need to reach out and grab it.”

 

Rebuilding the program

After graduating from Central Kings in 2010, where she was part of back-to-back D-2 girls’ provincial soccer champions, Wood arrived at Acadia during what she described as “very much a rebuilding of the program.”

Originally, however, playing soccer at university wasn’t in her plans.

“Playing university soccer wasn’t my first choice. I made my final choice in August, just before training camp.”

She wanted to study biology, and Acadia, unlike other schools, “offered a B.Sc. in biology without having to take math, which I hadn’t taken in high school.”

At the time, she wasn’t sure she wanted to play university soccer and worried about the time commitment.  

Amit Batra had just taken over as the Axewomen head coach and managed to turn her thoughts around.

“Amit talked to me, and I’d met some of the girls, so coming here to play soccer became a no-brainer,” she said.

The Axewomen have improved every year since.

“I’ve gotten to be part of that. I’ve been here almost as long as Amit,” she said. “He never gives up, and he always believes in us, no matter what the situation is.”

Not only can Wood appreciate the past, she can see the future. Batra has already recruited her eventual replacement in Bridgetown-area native Emma Connell, currently in her second year.

“I’ve coached her, and I’ve watched her develop. It’s really cool to see how far she’s come, and the potential she has,” Wood said. “As much as I hate to finish playing, I have to think I’m leaving the position in good hands.”

 

Longtime player

Wood has played soccer since she was eight or nine years old. Her first team, she recalled, was the under-10 Sobeys Starburst, “or something silly like that. All my friends were into it. We had a core group of athletes, a lot of whom ended up here.”

At Central Kings, she played a variety of sports, including basketball, badminton, rugby, track and field, and volleyball, both for CK and for the Valley Skyhawks, where she now coaches, as well as soccer, where she has always been a keeper.

“I had the best hand-to-eye co-ordination, I was the most willing, and I wasn’t afraid of the ball,” she explains.

In addition to her school soccer career, she has been a keeper for Tier 1 Valley United teams since U-14, and now plays for the Valley United senior women.

The decision to return for a fifth year at Acadia was the right one, Wood said.

“I’m very pleased I came back. It’s been my best year ever, and definitely my most satisfying,” she said. “(Last season) was the first year we could see where all the progress we’ve made might take us.”

Wood is not 100 per cent sure what she wants to do with her degree, but has been offered the chance to do more research next summer. She may also consider further study.

She’s not closing the door on soccer, either.

“(I hope) to be able to continue to help the team in some way, whatever I can contribute. I’m not ready to leave yet. I still have lots to give back to Acadia.”

And with so many options to choose from for her future, “I really can’t go wrong.”

It seems to be a good decision so far. The Coldbrook native, who will graduate next spring with a biology degree, has turned 2014-2015 into the most successful - and satisfying - season of her Acadia career.

Wood and the Axewomen competed for the AUS championship this past weekend in Halifax. A year ago, Acadia defeated second-seed Dalhousie in the semifinals to reach the conference final, only to lose 3-0 to top-ranked Cape Breton.

“Last year, we put so much into our semifinal with Dal,” which Acadia won 2-1 in overtime, “that by the time we hit our third game, we had nothing left to give. We played our very best, but it wasn’t enough.”

The team “had a lot of momentum coming out of last year,” Wood said, but at the same time, “we weren’t happy with second place, and with how the season ended. I made the decision to come back and try to improve on that.”

 

Playing with a focus

Acadia placed fourth in a competitive conference this season with 22 points on five wins, seven draws and just one loss, their final game.

“We knew we had already made the playoffs, and we wanted to be fully healthy and rested,” she said. “Winning or losing wasn’t that important. It was almost like we needed to lose to get it out of our systems.”

Individually, Wood more than justified her decision to return for a fifth year. She allowed just five goals in 10 games for a 0.50 goals against average, second in the conference. She was also second with a .937 save percentage, and her six shutouts tied for the conference lead. Of Acadia’s seven draws, five were scoreless draws.

Asked the biggest difference in the Axewomen from when she started, Wood cited “the tactical and technical awareness of the game – knowledge that’s allowed us to come together as a team.

“We always had talented players, but we lacked depth, and not everyone bought into the system. Now it’s right there in front of us. We just need to reach out and grab it.”

 

Rebuilding the program

After graduating from Central Kings in 2010, where she was part of back-to-back D-2 girls’ provincial soccer champions, Wood arrived at Acadia during what she described as “very much a rebuilding of the program.”

Originally, however, playing soccer at university wasn’t in her plans.

“Playing university soccer wasn’t my first choice. I made my final choice in August, just before training camp.”

She wanted to study biology, and Acadia, unlike other schools, “offered a B.Sc. in biology without having to take math, which I hadn’t taken in high school.”

At the time, she wasn’t sure she wanted to play university soccer and worried about the time commitment.  

Amit Batra had just taken over as the Axewomen head coach and managed to turn her thoughts around.

“Amit talked to me, and I’d met some of the girls, so coming here to play soccer became a no-brainer,” she said.

The Axewomen have improved every year since.

“I’ve gotten to be part of that. I’ve been here almost as long as Amit,” she said. “He never gives up, and he always believes in us, no matter what the situation is.”

Not only can Wood appreciate the past, she can see the future. Batra has already recruited her eventual replacement in Bridgetown-area native Emma Connell, currently in her second year.

“I’ve coached her, and I’ve watched her develop. It’s really cool to see how far she’s come, and the potential she has,” Wood said. “As much as I hate to finish playing, I have to think I’m leaving the position in good hands.”

 

Longtime player

Wood has played soccer since she was eight or nine years old. Her first team, she recalled, was the under-10 Sobeys Starburst, “or something silly like that. All my friends were into it. We had a core group of athletes, a lot of whom ended up here.”

At Central Kings, she played a variety of sports, including basketball, badminton, rugby, track and field, and volleyball, both for CK and for the Valley Skyhawks, where she now coaches, as well as soccer, where she has always been a keeper.

“I had the best hand-to-eye co-ordination, I was the most willing, and I wasn’t afraid of the ball,” she explains.

In addition to her school soccer career, she has been a keeper for Tier 1 Valley United teams since U-14, and now plays for the Valley United senior women.

The decision to return for a fifth year at Acadia was the right one, Wood said.

“I’m very pleased I came back. It’s been my best year ever, and definitely my most satisfying,” she said. “(Last season) was the first year we could see where all the progress we’ve made might take us.”

Wood is not 100 per cent sure what she wants to do with her degree, but has been offered the chance to do more research next summer. She may also consider further study.

She’s not closing the door on soccer, either.

“(I hope) to be able to continue to help the team in some way, whatever I can contribute. I’m not ready to leave yet. I still have lots to give back to Acadia.”

And with so many options to choose from for her future, “I really can’t go wrong.”

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