(Photo credit: Acadia University)
–By Dylan Matthias
Amit Batra is now the head coach of the Acadia Axewomen soccer team, replacing Angela Morrison.
Batra leaves his current post at Mount Saint Vincent after two incredibly successful years, where he only lost once over two years and was named coach of the year last year. During his tenure with the Mystics, MSVU were a powerhouse of ACAA women’s soccer.
Batra’s challenge at Acadia will be a little different. Where the Mount had talent in spades, including the high-scoring Sarah Parker and standout goalkeeper Breagh MacDonald, the Axewomen are a team of blue-chip players who lack a true star player.
To make Batra’s job harder, Acadia can be a hard sell to recruits. Although it is well-respected academically, its men’s soccer program was only re-instated in 2006 and has been woeful ever since. Acadia, in short, is not well-known for its soccer.
The Axewomen finished second from last in 2009 with only nine points and eight goals, conceding 25. They have some talent in holding midfielder Lauren O’Connor and winger Becca Stunz, but strikers ZZ Leighton and Lauren Landry haven’t been overly productive and goalkeeping is a weak spot as well.
One of Batra’s strengths is tactics. At MSVU, he favoured a very attacking brand of soccer, especially for the women’s game. Whether he’ll change tactics to adapt to Acadia’s lack of flair or not remains to be seen, but it is safe to say the Axewomen will be a very organized team next year.
Batra’s first year will be difficult–his 2009 Mystics would, on paper, probably have beaten the 2009 Axewomen. How much Acadia improve next year will depend largely on how Batra adjusts to CIS and how much recruiting he’s able to do in what’s left of the summer.
The Axewomen have some room to improve, and the hiring of a coach who is very likely ready to make the jump to CIS is a definite upgrade for them and a signal of intent that the Axewomen want to become more of a player in AUS. What Batra lacks in CIS-reputation he makes up for in promise.
Acadia open their season with their new coach against Dalhousie on September 11th at Wickwire field.
–Dylan Matthias is the incoming sports editor at the Dalhousie Gazette. He runs Dal Soccer Live on the side to provide more in-depth coverage of AUS and ACAA soccer. He has been a Toronto FC fan since Danny Dichio scored the team’s first ever goal. It showed him the magic of soccer.