Rookie leading Vikings attack
University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings striker Demi Vermeer gets a shot on Keyano College Huskies goalie Emma Jones as Amanda Giesbrecht defends during Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s soccer action in Camrose on Saturday. Augustana won 4-1 for their first victory of the season. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
The University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings women’s soccer team did not have to go far for their newest scoring threat — they found her in their own backyard.
Demi Vermeer, 17, grew up commuting from Bawlf to Camrose for soccer during the spring and summer, so deciding to start the next chapter in the Swan City was an easy one to make.
The fit looks good for everyone so far. Through six games, she is second on the team in scoring with four goals, to tie for the team lead with fourth-year senior Tara Berger. Both were on fire in the club’s first victory of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season as Berger scored twice and Vermeer once in their 4-1 win over the Keyano College Huskies on Saturday in Camrose. Taylor Olson had the other goal for the Vikings.
“The level’s been a lot harder than I expected, but it’s been really fun … it’s been enjoyable to play,” she said.
“Even though this is the first game we’ve won, it’s still fun, I’m not losing hope. It makes everyone so much more happy and it just boosts the team.”
Vermeer is easy to spot on the field as one of the tallest players on team, but she is quick enough and skilled enough to play the striker position and provide a match up quagmire for opposing coaches. As she gets older and stronger, she will be that much more difficult to defend for other ACAC teams.
She says she needs to continue to work on her touches and skills, though early individual success has given her confidence to keep working hard.
As the Vikings work to improve, she becomes a critical piece of the puzzle.
“We finally got some scoring strength up top, that takes a load off,” said Vikings head coach Paul Stone. “We can build around that for sure.”
The fact that Stone was able to find that piece in Camrose County is that much more important.
“I’ve known her for a while, and I knew she had some skills, it’s a big soccer family,” said Stone, adding her older brother Jake went to Lakeland College in Lloydminster to play for the Rustlers. “It’s in the blood, there’s soccer IQ there, now we just have to fine tune it.”
Vermeer has been using her smarts her entire life for more than just sports. She is currently undeclared but is taking a Bachelor of Arts and is considering pursuing a career as a political lawyer.
“I love politics and I love arguing, so with the two of them, maybe that’s for me,” said Vermeer, who is the youngest of three children. “The only way I could win fights is by talking (my brother and sister) out of it … As the youngest you’ve got to be smarter.”
The Vikings did lose 3-1 to The King’s University Eagles on Friday at home — Berger scored the Viking’s lone goal — but Stone is hoping the Vikings can build off of Saturday’s win.
It has been a difficult start to the season with an impossible-to-navigate schedule against some of the best clubs in the country, let alone the ACAC. Just to feel good about their game is a big step in the right direction.
“It’s huge, a lot of people don’t realize how hard these girls work day in and day out … and the coaches work hard too, you want to find some positivity,” said Stone. “It’s a nice feeling that the hard work has finally paid off and the weight’s been lifted off their shoulders now and they can relax.”
The Vikings men had a tough weekend, losing both matches, 3-0 to King’s on Friday and 4-0 to Keyano on Saturday.
This weekend, the Vikings play only once, but it is against the NAIT Ooks in Edmonton on Saturday with the women at noon and the men at 2 p.m.