CHARLOTTETOWN – Growing up, Leah Buchanan spent most of her summers on Prince Edward Island.
With plenty of family in the province, Buchanan considered Prince Edward Island her second home.
This fall, the Stittsville, Ont., native and Ottawa Fury youth club graduate will make the Island her home for the foreseeable future, as she has committed to the Holland College Hurricanes for the 2018-19 Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association women’s soccer season.
The five-foot-eight centre midfielder comes with four years of eligibility remaining, having played the 2016 season with the Algonquin Thunder, winning an Ontario Collegiate Athletic Association (OCAA) gold medal and competing at that fall’s Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) women’s soccer national championship in Montreal, where she saw the Hurricanes for the first time.
“I looked into the school, and I loved the atmosphere of both the academics and athletics,” she said.
Hurricanes head coach Kris McKinnon is looking forward to Buchanan bringing her experience and leadership to the table.
“She knows what it takes to win,” he said. “Leah will make an instant impact on our team raising the level for all her teammates.”
Buchanan believes her time with the Thunder will be a considerable help as she gets to know her new Holland College teammates.
“I think playing for one of the top schools in the country taught me a lot about how much it takes to be at the elite level,” she said. “I know how hard you have to train and how tough some games will be.
“I think I’ll be able to use that knowledge in pushing myself and my teammates to ensure we succeed and become one of those top teams.”
One teammate she’ll have no trouble getting acquainted with is current Hurricane Sabrina Molnar, a fellow Ottawa-area native who Buchanan grew up playing against, and later developed a friendship with while both were part of the Fury system.
“We would always hang out and talk before and after practices,” she said of Molnar. “I’m super excited to finally play with her. I think the way she plays and the way I play will definitely benefit the team.”
Buchanan believes this year’s Hurricanes squad can make a serious push toward appearing at the 2018 CCAA women’s soccer national championship, hosted by Douglas College.
“I think people can expect a strong team with a lot of younger players, but also a few older ones who have played at the CCAA level before and can guide the younger ones,” she said. “I’m very excited for this group as well as the coaching staff, I believe we have a very good chance of a national appearance.”
The women’s soccer Hurricanes open their regular season against the Dalhousie Agricultural College Rams on Saturday, Sept. 8.