Author Topic: Lanagara star shines on defence  (Read 821 times)

Offline David

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Lanagara star shines on defence
« on: March 24, 2007, 05:48:42 PM »
Rachael Pelat (21) has hooked up with the Newton-based Pegasus Alumni premier soccer team following a stellar third season with two-time national college champion Langara Falcons.
Lanagara star shines on defence

By Michael Booth

Rachael Pelat may be one of the top women's soccer players in Canada, but she has a hard time accepting her own success.

Refreshingly modest, Pelat marvels as she considers the ever-growing collection of awards she has amassed for her outstanding season with the national champion Langara Falcons last fall.

"I'm really loud on the field," the quiet 20-year-old said with a giggle, before adding in a more serious tone, "I don't feel like I stood out. We have two forwards who were All-Canadians and then all of our defenders were solid. I have no idea what it is that makes me stand out."

Pelat grew up playing with Sur-Del girls soccer before moving first to Surrey United and later to Surrey F.C. as a teen. After graduating from North Delta's Seaquam secondary, Pelat took her soccer skills to Vancouver's Langara College where she has been a stalwart on the Falcons back end for the last three seasons. She was selected as the rookie of the year for B.C. in her first year and then helped Langara capture back-to-back national titles in the past two seasons.

A first team all-star in 2005, the awards started coming in bunches last November when the Falcons repeated as national champs. In addition to the usual assortment of all-star team honours, Pelat was selected as the B.C. college player of the year and national player of the year.

"It's amazing, it's so unexpected," Pelat said. "There are so many talented people in the league who I play with. Every time I get nominated, I get nervous because I look at all the other players who are out there who deserve it too. So it's so unexpected just to be considered."

The awards kept coming earlier this month when Pelat was honoured as Sport B.C.'s college athlete of the year. The latest trophy in her growing collection - presented at a swank $150-per-plate gala dinner - is even more impressive when one considers she was singled out from a talent pool that includes all of the women and men who play college sports in this province.

"I really wasn't expecting that one at all," she said. "The emcee was going over all of everybody's list of awards and stuff and it was really amazing. Everyone at my table was going, 'Whoa, tough competition.' So when they read my name out I was shocked.

"It really hasn't sunk in yet, it's still just an award right now. What it means really hasn't registered in my head yet."

Port-season awards such as these are, as a rule, the domain of the offensive stars in a given sport. Pelat's success bucks that trend as she has managed to turn heads while anchoring the defensive back line for the Falcons.

"Usually it's a goal scorer or maybe a goalie that puts up some impressive stats that win these kinds of awards," said Langara coach Ryan Birt. "Rarely is it a defender. Rachael is a defender who is first of all very sound at the back, there's very little that gets by her. I think what sets her apart though is her ability to attack out of the back. She's good at getting the ball up the field and then she joins the attack, almost becoming an extra midfielder. So as a defender she manages to score her fair share of goals and she takes all of our free kicks as well."

With three seasons of playing the game at the college level under her belt, Pelat is naturally curious about pushing her limits. A psychology major at Langara, Pelat is in the process of transferring to the University of British Columbia where she hopes to earn a spot with the powerhouse national champion Thunderbirds.

Naturally, Pelat sells herself short.

"I don't know if they have any spots so it will be hard," she said cautiously. "When I think of UBC, I think major discipline and really intense all around.

She then added with growing confidence, "It seems like it's the next step up. I just want to try and compete at that level. I want to see if I can do it."

Birt, however, has no such reservations.

"In my opinion she's a kid who not only can play at the next level, but also have a real impact at that level," he said.

"I know she can do that and while I obviously would like to have her back, for her personal growth and for her to achieve the things she wants to achieve, that's where she has to go."