(FREDERICTON, NB) They all wore the Fredericton District Soccer Association’s distinctive yellow and black. Now, they’ll all wear UNB’s trademark red, white and black.
FDSA graduates Eve MacDonald, Erin Smal and Lauren Kelly have signed U SPORTS Letters of Intent, and will join the Reds women’s soccer team beginning in the 2018 season.
“It’s home for me,” said Smal, a winger who graduated from the FDSA’s Premiership program following her U17 season and is currently playing with the Picaroons Reds, of the New Brunswick Premier Soccer League. “I’ve grown up watching the Reds and always knew I wanted to be part of the team one day. For as long as I can remember, going to home games in the fall has been a tradition for me and my teammates.”
Smal was a standout with Fredericton High School’s varsity girls team in her Grade 11 and 12 seasons, and helped the Black Kats capture the 2017 NBIAA senior girls AAA championship. She’s also been a member of the Reds Academy, and in her U17 year, Smal got the chance to work with some former UNB women’s players.
“In my last year of club soccer, Laura McNicholas, Hayley Gates and Lucy Parkin were my coaches. They showed me the work ethic and mindset I needed to become a university player,” said Smal. “They were major role models for me, on and off the field, and I feel lucky to have had them to look up too.”
Reds head coach Jon Crossland has high hopes for Smal.
“Erin has continued to improve over the past couple of years and that’s put her in a position to come into camp and earn her role in our group,” he said. “She reminds us of Ellen Arsenault, and Ellen had a big impact on our program during her time here.”
Smal will enter UNB’s Faculty of Nursing when studies commence.
MacDonald, a midfielder and a member of New Brunswick’s 2017 Canada Games team, is also playing with the Picaroons Reds. Like Smal, she too is a graduate of the FDSA’s Premiership program and was a standout on the FHS varsity girls team.
“I feel very fortunate that I have this opportunity to represent UNB on the field,” said MacDonald. “It shocks me that I’ve grown up and reached this level of soccer. I can still remember, when I was younger and went to UNB games, wondering to myself if I’d ever be that good.”
While playing in the NBPSL, MacDonald is also training in advance of her jump to university soccer.
“I’ve been going to the gym at least four times a week,” she said. “I’m not sure what to expect, but I’ve been pushing myself all summer so I can be ready for whatever comes.”
“Eve is a competitor,” said Crossland. “She brings ‘it’ every time she’s on the field and doesn’t let up in training or games. Combine that compete-level with her abilities and Eve will make an impact in our group.”
MacDonald will study Engineering.
Kelly was also a member of New Brunswick’s 2017 Canada Games team, and played on the FHS provincial championship team after a number of years at Soccer New Brunswick’s High Performance Academy, in Moncton. She too is currently playing in the NBPSL, with the Picaroons Reds.
She was a teammate of both MacDonald and Smal in the FDSA’s Premiership program, most recently at the U17 level.
“I am beyond excited to play at a very competitive level, and to train to be the best player I can be,” Kelly said. “I have grown up on campus and know that learning in my home environment will be beneficial to my education.”
“I’m looking forward to having a team that will support me through my years at UNB, and long after,” she said. “Summer prep is going well. I will be prepared for what is to come.”
Crossland expects Kelly to challenge for playing time immediately.
“Lauren has played in big competitions at club nationals and Canada Games. That platform should help her adjust to the university level,” he said. “With Rebecca Duda graduating, it’s a great opportunity for Lauren to come in and compete with Brynn Nash for playing time.”
Kelly will study Science.
The Reds open their training camp Friday, August 17.
They’ll host three of their four pre-season games ahead of their Atlantic University Sport regular season opener, September 8, at Cape Breton.