Striker goes national

Tessier cracks Canadian squad for world university games

Jackie Tessier scored 54 goals in 69 career games for Queen’s, leading the team to two straight national crowns.
Jackie Tessier scored 54 goals in 69 career games for Queen’s, leading the team to two straight national crowns.
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Jackie Tessier nearly missed her chance to play for Canada.

The Gaels women’s soccer star is currently gearing up to represent Canada in the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia next month — even though she missed the initial tryouts because of her work with Queen’s Musical Theatre’s Sweeney Todd.

Fortunately for Tessier, Canadian head coach Liz Jepsen had seen her play a number of times before. After the striker contacted Jepsen to remain in consideration, she was invited to brave the four-day final camp in British Columbia.

One of her biggest challenges in tryouts was getting accustomed to Team Canada’s stylistic difference in play. Queen’s, she said, plays with two strikers, while Canada opts for three.

“The way that I had to play at tryouts was very different, but even with that, I understood the game better and I was a much more experienced player,” Tessier said. “I was able to kind of switch my mentality and shift into that system.”

Tessier was a part of Team Canada’s preliminary camp two years ago, but was cut at the second-last tryout.

“One of the big things in tryouts was I actually scored goals this year,” she said.

Tessier’s maturity and experience were crucial assets, as was the understanding of the game she developed through four years playing on the Gaels varsity team.

“By the time we got to British Columbia, any player that was there deserved to be there,” Tessier said. “You just have to play your game and hope they need you.”

After suiting up for Canada, Tessier said she’d jump at the opportunity to play professionally — but her realism gets the best of her.

“I think this is pretty much my last push for soccer, so I’m going to give it my best.”

While she’s gearing up in red and white this summer, Tessier still hasn’t forgotten her Tricolour roots. She plans to live in Kingston during a year off school, intending to help with women’s soccer training in the fall.

“It’s definitely going to be a different team. They’re losing a fair amount of girls, but that’s just part of life and university sport,” she said.

Head coach Dave McDowell said the loss of any graduating player is hard to account for — especially this year’s group of departing veterans.

Women’s soccer has reached three straight national finals, winning CIS championships in 2010 and 2011.

According to her coach, Tessier will likely be impossible to replace.

“Those players come along once in a while and obviously she’s one of the most gifted athletes we’ve had in here,” McDowell said. “We’ll do what we can.”

With training camp starting on August 15, McDowell will look to returning strikers Brittany Almeida, Kayla Crnic and Breanna Burton to step up to the plate.

Burton, who scored 10 of Queen’s 55 goals last season, told the Journal via email that she’ll look to keep the changing team as cohesive as possible.

“We have so many talented and versatile players on our team,” she said. “I think our biggest thing will be to find out what system works best and which players work best in certain positions.”

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