Lakeland's women's soccer team finished the season on a strong note, winning two of their last three games and five points in the second half of the season, ending what was a strange season for the Rustlers who had the talent and skill, but couldn't find a break.
Of the 10 games they played during the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) season, head coach Kevin Wagner said the Rustlers were the better team in eight games, and the other coaches would agree.
However, Lakeland finished with a 2-6-2 record, moving out of the basement of the ACAC South Division with a 2-1 victory over SAIT in the final game of the season to finish fifth.
But there were definitely thoughts that Lakeland could have done so much more with just a little added luck in their game.
"We had potential, had talent and things were going well, but we had absolutely no luck," said Wagner. "We could not get any luck in the first five games. Four of the five games we were the better team and the opposition would say they were fortunate to win the game. We were the better team, better possession, better numbers, but couldn't get luck with finishing."
The Rustlers woes came in the form of hitting numerous posts and crossbars, which plagued their game early in the season.
They finished the season allowing only 15 goals, which for most teams, would put them in the playoff picture. In comparison, Grande Prairie allowed 15 goals in the North Division and Olds College allowed 16 in the South Division. Both are heading to the ACAC championships.
It came down to goal production and Lakeland got little of it, scoring just six goals in 10 games, the Rustlers were the lowest scoring team in the ACAC this season, one of the major reasons they spent the last few weeks of the short soccer season playing for pride, rather than a playoff position.
"Out of the 10 games we played, only two games we weren't the better team," said Wagner.
"When you look at our goals against, we should have won a lot more games. It's a very unique season. I was happy with the last two to three weeks. We ended up with passion and playing with pride."
With a defensive foundation set for next season, it would seem all Wagner has to do is recruit a bona fide striker to help score.
Unfortunately, that isn't the case with the women's program, as academic programs at Lakeland don't keep female soccer players at the college very long and like every year, Wagner is expecting a good overturn of players that he will have to fill for next season.
It's the pattern he's come to accept, which makes it difficult to sustain a successful winning program long term.
"Some will be back, but it's going to be regroup for next year," said Wagner. "That's why it's difficult when you have such a quick season. The players come in and out so fast, that your first four games you have to get the business done to give yourself a chance."