By: Nathan Kanter, Sports Editor
Mustangs striker Amanda Boyle is adamant about a couple of pre-game rituals. One, she must eat a banana, blueberry Greek yogurt, an apple and a cinnamon raisen bagel with peanut butter and jelly.
Two, Shania Twain and Taylor Swift must be playing in the dressing room before the team takes the field.
“Listening to some Shania Twain and Taylor Swift in the dressing room before games really helps,” she said. “I said we should put Shania Twain in pre-game and we did and it worked. So I’m saying keep Shania. Keep it going — it’s clearly working.”
Whether it’s the music or not, it’s clear something is working for both the Mustangs women’s soccer team and its leading goal scorer, who has been named this week’s Purple Pipe Athlete of the Week.
Boyle scored four goals over the weekend in an 8–1 victory over the Waterloo Warriors to push the Mustangs to 9–1 on the season. But it’s Boyle’s play over the course of the season that has warranted our attention, and why her being named our athlete of the week is long overdue.
Boyle has 17 goals this season in just 10 games, which is tied for not only the Ontario University Athletics lead, but also the Canadian Interuniversity Sport lead.
“Six to 17 is a really big jump and I’m really surprised myself,” she said, referring to her six goals last season as a rookie. “It’s mind-blowing. I can’t handle how big of a deal it is. I really hope that I can keep it up.”
Boyle feels the biggest change between first and second year is familiarity with the team structure and her teammates.
“I think I have more confidence this season and I’m more comfortable with the girls I’m playing with this year,” she said. “We’ve been able to work and connect a lot more passes.”
The new-found confidence means Western is in perfect position in the standings with six games left in the regular season. They are just one point back of the division leading York Lions, but they have a game in hand, meaning a first-place finish is possible. And that’s exactly what Boyle said the team is eyeing, for the second season in a row.
“[Our goal is] definitely to finish top in the division,” she said. “More time to rest, work on things that we need to work on, to focus on the other teams. Maybe do a little bit of homework.”
In order for that to happen, Boyle says there are a number of things the team needs to do.
“Communicating more, keeping on the path we're keeping, maintaining a high-level in practice, focus, intensity and conditioning,” she said.
Plus one other tidbit that involves some luck.
“Maintaining our health,” she added. “We’ve had very few injuries this season which is really beneficial for us.”
If the that trend continues, and if Boyle continues eyeing that goal-scoring lead, there’s no reason Western can’t claim first. Which, hopefully, is simply the beginning of what could be a very deep playoff run.