Nicole Sydor brought the curtains down on her university soccer career in storybook fashion.
The Tsawwassen Soccer Club product helped the UBC Thunderbirds capture just their sixth CIS national championship in the school's 100 year history with a 3-0 win over conference rival Trinity Western University in the gold medal game. UBC lost just once this season in 24 matches to advance to the nationals for the first time since 2010.
Sydor is now looking forward to her next conquest off the pitch.
"Winning the championship was a great way to end my university playing career. It was a long tough road but worth all the bumps along the way," she said. "I am now applying and hoping to enter nursing school in the fall. This is the next big challenge for me to tackle and I can't wait."
The South Delta Secondary School graduate reflected on her youth career that began when she was seven in Tsawwassen's grassroots program.
"My first team was the Killer Bees and it's funny looking back," she said. "We would all run around chasing the ball all over the field like a swarm. I am sure we lost every game that year."
It was from there Sydor's love of the game grew and, through the years , she continued to work to improve her play and compete at the highest levels.
"I have to say it didn't come easy for me initially, never being chosen for (or given opportunity) for provincial teams or local Metro teams," she continued. "I was a scrawny little kid and had to go the long road.
"When I think about it, it was those setbacks that really drove me and pushed me to work harder. At 15, I went from playing Silver 'A' to playing Metro and Premier Women's League."
It was in the spring of 2011 when Sydor was invited to UBC's identification camp which was being overseen by then coach Mark Rogers who now happens to be Tsawwassen's current technical director.
Rogers noticed noticed Sydor's determination , drive and work ethic, offering her a scholarship to play forward for the school's varsity team. Sydor accepted the offer and entered UBC's School of Kinesiology.
"The first year was so intimidating to be playing along-side these big girls who were so good, but I kept my head down and worked hard to improve and earn my spot," Sydor recalled.
Does she have any advice for today's young players coming through the local clubs?
"Yes, never give up on your dreams. Don't let anybody say you can't do it. Work hard and keep your eye on the prize."
Corner kicks... The UBC roster also included another SDSS graduate - second-year defender Nadia Langenberg - who saw limited minutes but is expected to have a greater role next season.