After a five-year tenure with the UNB Varsity Reds women’s soccer team, Samantha Lagacy is moving on. But having finished this past season with nine goals and coming third in conference scoring, the 23-year-old AUS All-Star is leaving the team in their best shape in years.
While the V-Reds had been in a slump in recent seasons, Lagacy said that the experience of going from last to first was character building.
“This was the one year where we were quite successful, but it was definitely a build-up,” she said. “All the girls are a lot older now, so everyone put in a lot of work for it — so it wasn’t so much a surprise so much as we knew we deserved it, and every game we played we wanted to win.”
To Lagacy, what finally clinched their domination this year was sheer determination on the players’ part.
“I think a lot of people were getting tired of having a program where we thought we should win but then we weren’t coming out with wins,” she explained. “We were coming out with ties, losses by goal, and I think everyone just decided to find a way to win. And every game we played, even if we were losing, we would come back with goals — everyone was invested.”
No stranger to team sports, Lagacy has been a soccer enthusiast since she was five years old. Having played other sports such as hockey, basketball and volleyball, she became serious about soccer upon qualifying for the Canada Games in Grade 11. Her coach in those games suggested playing for UNB, whose law program she was already considering. Balancing academics and athletics is no simple task, but Lagacy has worked out a system after five years.
“When I was in my first year I could never have done it,” she noted. “But you learn to study on the bus, read on the plane, study in your hotel room — everyone [on the team] has the same mentality. The hours that I spend at practice and playing are like my free time.”
Looking back on her soccer career, Lagacy felt that this year served as a satisfying capstone to her time with the V-Reds — seeing her team make it to the AUS Championships and her fellow teammates develop as athletes.
“Just seeing the other players grow in a winning environment [was a highlight],” she said. “They got to see the benefits of working hard. Kind of like the light at the end of the tunnel. It was hard going through it, but it paid off in the end.”
As for herself, Lagacy was reflective on her growth as a team athlete over the years.
“I’ve always had the best interests of the team in mind, but I find now, you don’t have to do everything yourself,” she explained. “You can depend on everyone on the team. In my first year, it was more individual efforts, and now it’s the effort of the whole team.”