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It was a case of one door closing and another opening.
Rachel Green was preparing for her third season of Atlantic University Sport (AUS) women’s soccer when her playing future was in doubt. The disappointment of being released by the UPEI Panthers was quickly replaced by optimism as the opportunity to play in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) presented itself. She immediately began talking to Holland Hurricanes head coach Kris McKinnon.
“It didn’t work out (at UPEI) and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do because soccer has been such a big part of my life,” explained the 20-year-old daughter of Steven and Marcia Green of Borden-Carleton. “Kris reached out and set me up with Albert (Roche), the athletic director at Holland College.
“They were able to find some courses that fit into my academic plan at UPEI and allowed me to play soccer for the Hurricanes. It worked out great.
“They needed a centre back and I still wanted to play soccer, but I still wanted to continue my education and I did not want to compromise that.”
Green is continuing to study actuarial science at UPEI. A lot of thought and consideration went into her decision to take on a full course load at Holland College.
“It’s not an easy decision to be full-time at both schools and play varsity soccer,” said Green. “It’s a lot on your plate.
“My friends and family were there to weigh the pros and cons with me and I met with my old (UPEI) coach Graeme MacDonald and he was very supportive.
“He laid everything out for me and helped me understand what would happen if I decided to play.”
“It didn’t work out (at UPEI) and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do because soccer has been such a big part of my life. Kris reached out and set me up with Albert (Roche), the athletic director at Holland College. They were able to find some courses that fit into my academic plan at UPEI and allowed me to play soccer for the Hurricanes. It worked out great. They needed a centre back and I still wanted to play soccer, but I still wanted to continue my education and I did not want to compromise that.”
- Rachel Green
McKinnon said Green is a player who has always been on the Hurricanes’ radar, but stressed the No. 1 priority during their discussions was academics.
“We made sure academically it was the right fit for her and she could continue her studies at UPEI, plus also pick up some courses that could assist her at Holland College,” said McKinnon. “She was a player we knew coming out of high school who would have been a great fit for the Hurricanes and she went on and played significant minutes in the AUS.
“When the opportunity came to put her in a ‘Canes’ uniform we jumped at it.”
It’s a move that benefited both sides. Green was able to continue her competitive soccer career at a high level and the Hurricanes added a veteran presence.
“Traditionally, with our program, you are one or two years out of high school,” said McKinnon. “To be able to add a player with a couple of years of post-secondary experience under their belt is invaluable.”
McKinnon added Green’s “contributions to the team didn’t go unnoticed” by the team’s coaches.
“She is a quiet, unassuming individual and doesn’t say a whole lot, but when she does speak the team takes notice,” continued McKinnon. “Her play on the field, being able to organize our back-line, was invaluable for us. She had a calming effect that helped the team throughout the season.”
Green noted the Hurricanes have a “team dynamic” that is very special.
“Our coaches always say they have never had a team that celebrates together,” said Green. “Every single player on the field celebrates when someone scores.
“It’s such a great dynamic and atmosphere, very accepting of everyone.”
Green said she has been able to draw on her experiences with the Panthers this year.
“I didn’t get as much playing time at UPEI, but my teammates there were great,” said Green, a graduate of Kinkora Regional High School. “I loved them to death and it was hard leaving them.
“The professional varsity soccer experience helped me mentally and physically, especially when it came to playoff time and you had to step up your game.”
Green started all 12 regular-season and two playoff games for the Hurricanes that ended with an Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) title and a berth in this week’s Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) national women’s championship in Edmonton.
“It was always a goal for the team (to win the conference championship),” said Green, who scored two regular-season goals and was named a second-team ACAA all-star. “I never thought I would be at the CCAA nationals.
“A national championship in any sport is great. I’m ready for the competition. It will be a little bit tougher, but I think the team can compete there for sure.”
The Hurricanes, who went 11-0-1 (won-lost-tied) to finish first in the ACAA standings, will face the Fanshawe Falcons (8-0-1) in a semifinal game Wednesday afternoon.
“We have been there before and the jump in the level of play is quite significant,” said McKinnon. “We play Fanshawe, which finished third at nationals last year and has the current reigning MVP in the country.
“We need to be prepared defensively to make sure we battle for every ball and when we get our chances make sure we score and put them.”
Green acknowledged she is very grateful for the support she received during her uncertain playing future just a couple of months ago.
“I made the best of an unfortunate situation and I had so much help from my family, friends, roommates, Holland College, my coaches and I just can’t thank everyone enough,” said Green. “Then to win the ACAA championship on top of that and go to nationals, it’s just great.”
One thing for certain is Green will look back on the 2019 season with the Hurricanes fondly.
“I’m not sure what I am doing next year if I’m going to play for Holland again if we can find some more courses that can transfer over to my degree, or if I head back to the AUS, but it’s been a really good experience,” said Green. “If it’s the end of my career, it’s a pretty good ending.”