Vet fronts team's first NAIA national championship home game
back in about 1989, when Shelley Howieson was about a year into her
tenure as the one and only head coach of the Simon Fraser Clan women's
soccer team, a former teammate from her playing days stopped by for a
Jodene Gant had brought her toddling daughter Jacqueline
up Burnaby Mountain for a visit, and Howieson doesn't have too much
trouble remembering what she said that day almost two decades ago.
"I was so excited that she had had a little girl," Howieson laughed
Wednesday after practice."And I said to her 'So here's my recruit for
All these years later, little Jacqueline Gant has grown into the
team's fourth-year leader, and she is set to play a pivotal role
Saturday as the Clan (11-6-1) host the Rocky Mountain College's
Battlin' Bears (Billings. Mont., 14-3-0) in a 1:30 p.m. game at Terry
Fox field. It's the first-ever NAIA national championship-round game
ever staged in this province.
"My mom used to play soccer with
[Howieson], so it's been amazing for me to come up here and play, but
I'd never heard that story before," laughed Gant, a 21-year-old
communications major from Burnaby who on Thursday was named to the
conference all-star team.
Actually, the only reason she hasn't is
that when the Gant clan gathers around the dinner table, there's just
so many soccer tales to tell.Jacqueline's dad Bruce Gant played
for the Portland Timbers of the North American Soccer League; her uncle
Brian Gant also played in the NASL with the Timbers and the Vancouver
Whitecaps (1974-76); and national team standout Christine Sinclair is
her first cousin.
Gant's brother Dylan just wrapped up a successful career on the Clan's cross-country and track and field teams.
think there's soccer in the genes, soccer in the environment, all the
supporting pieces that really help to make her the complete package,"
"I had followed her progress up through youth
[Burnaby Girls Soccer Club] and she was definitely on my recruiting
list. But it was a heck of a process because she was the kind of player
that a lot of people were interested in."
So in her final year of
eligibility, Gant not only gets her chance to return to the national
tournament for the first time since her freshman year, but she gets to
play a playoff game at home. And none of that is being taken for
The Clan lost on penalty kicks in last weekend's play-in
round at San Antonio and everyone assumed they were finished for the
season. But SFU later discovered it had not only received an at-large
berth, but a chance to play a host role.
"On the trip back from
the field we thought we had no chance of going through and everybody
was just sobbing in the van," Gant says. "Then we got the call. It's
been an amazing time."
The winner of Saturday's game, along with
14 other opening-round contests, join host Embry-Riddle for the 16-team
national championship tournament Dec. 1-6 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
midfielder Lauren Lachlan was named conference Player of the Year,
while Marissa Antoniazzi and Aly Benes joined Gant on the
all-conference first team.
Howard Tsumura, The Province
Published: Friday, November 21, 2008