Alumni make Capers soccer women feel at home in Ottawa.
For the Cape Breton Capers women’s soccer team, Thursday morning’s opening game of the U Sports National Championship in Ottawa felt almost like a home game.
When the Cape Breton squad walked onto the field to play the Western Mustangs of London, Ont., in quarter-final action, the club was welcomed by an estimated 100 cheering Capers fans at Gee-Gees Field.
The fans, wearing orange sweaters and toques and holding signs and banners, included family, friends, school and soccer alumni as well as staff members.
Capers soccer alumnus Chelsea Currie of Coxheath was among those fans who braved the chilly November morning to cheer on the Atlantic University Sport champions.
“I had brought a couple of friends from school, who had never been to the East Coast, so I was excited to expose them to the ‘orange army,’” said Currie, who played five years with the women’s soccer program from 2012-16.
“I was expecting a good crowd, but it still surprised me with how big the crowd was, considering how far away Ottawa is from home — it was pretty exciting.”
Currie wasn’t the only soccer
alumni in attendance for the game. Karolyne Blain, the AUS and Capers women’s alltime goal scorer, and Alyssa Armstrong were also in the stands.
“I completely carved out my schedule to make sure I was in attendance,” said Armstrong, who is currently working as a councillor’s assistant in Ottawa.
“I wasn’t able to watch the girls play this season, so when I found out that Ottawa was hosting the tournament and that the Capers were coming, I was super-excited for the chance to reconnect with some of the girls and coaches.”
This year’s Capers team has three players from the Ottawa area including AUS most valuable player Ciera Disipio, Chantal Caron, and Amelia Carlini, who scored the opening goal of the game for Cape Breton and was named the contest’s player of the game.
Along with banners and signs, many fans used thundersticks and bells to cheer the team to victory.
“It was loud, but in the best way,” laughed Currie when asked about the atmosphere in the stands.
“There were children there from schools from the Ottawa area — I think on a field trip — and when we started chanting ‘Go Capers Go,’ they would repeat it and I don’t even think they knew what it meant.”
Despite the focus being on the Capers fans, there were Mustangs supporters in attendance as well.
“I’m sure Western had some fans in the crowd, but we took up a good section of the bleachers and we were louder, which was nice to see,” laughed Armstrong, a St. John’s, N.L., native, who played five years with the Capers from 2013-18.
“Even before we got to the field, I could see the crowd wearing orange, which was super-uplifting and I know the girls really liked the support.”
Attending the game was a top priority for Currie, who is currently taking her masters degree at the University of Ottawa, the host school for the tournament.
“I feel like even after you’re done with Cape Breton University, you always feel part of it, so getting to be there and really supporting the girls was important to me — it was like school and home came to me again,” said Currie.
Currie remembers when expectations were never really high for CBU to win a national title.
“The Capers were a team that everyone wanted to play because they assumed it would be an easy win,” said Currie. “CBU is the team everyone is afraid of now and they know who they are and what they’re going to bring in the game.”
On the field, Cape Breton defeated Western 2-0, advancing to the U Sports national semifinal game on Saturday against Trinity Western.
Game time is 11 a.m. Atlantic time.
Currie and Armstrong both confirmed they will be in the stands supporting the Capers on Saturday morning with the rest of the “orange army.”
Regardless of the outcome Saturday, the Capers will play for a medal on Sunday, either in the bronze medal game at 1:30 p.m. or the championship game at 4 p.m.
Capers soccer alumni Michelle Goulet and Joanne Delahunt also confirmed on Facebook their intentions to support the team from the stands on Sunday.
Cape Breton Capers supporters pose for a picture during the U Sports National Women’s Soccer Championship at Gee-Gees Field in Ottawa, Ont., on Thursday. An estimated 100 family, friends, alumni and staff attended the game, taking up a good portion of the stands, to support the Capers against the Western Mustangs.