Player Spotlight: Samantha MacDonald

- July 25, 2014

Coming out of high school, Samantha MacDonald faced a tough decision that many young, elite Canadian athletes face: go south of the border to play for a school in the highly competitive and well-known NCAA, or stay home and play in the CIS.

MacDonald received offers from a handful of NCAA schools, as well as some closer to her home in Ontario, but it was one visit with a scout from the Tigers that changed her outlook. She hadn’t even heard of Dalhousie until she started playing for Bram United, a local club team, when a scout first noticed her.

“When I started talking to the scout, Dalhousie just seemed to be an easy decision for me as it had the exact courses I was looking to take at the time,” explains MacDonald. “Also, I always wanted to choose my post-secondary school based on the education the school offers before athletics. Here at Dal the athletics program’s dedication to academics were exactly what I was looking for.”

And as soon as she stepped foot on campus on a tour in her grade 12 year, she immediately pictured herself going to Dal.

She broke onto the Dalhousie Tigers women’s soccer team as a rookie with a bang, becoming one of only six players to play and start in all 13 games. With many injuries to the team’s back line, she stepped up when the team needed her the most.

“As a rookie, it was intimidating coming in and playing a lot. I always wanted to play well and set the bar high,” she says. “It was because of injuries that I found myself in a starting position so I knew the pressure was on me to always play at the level of the returning players every time I stepped on the field.”

The Tigers capped off the season that year with their second straight AUS title, beating Cape Breton 3-1.

“The season itself couldn’t have gone any better,” notes MacDonald. “The feeling of being part of an AUS winning team my first year was something that can never be relived, and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to share the experience with.”

After her first year at Dal, MacDonald started playing for her club soccer in Burlington, along with fellow Tigers Bianca Jakisa, Shannon Junor, Andie Vanderlaan, Ashley Donnelly and Doriana Homerski. Things looked promising for the young defender heading into her second season on the pitch at Dalhousie.

At the home opener against CBU, MacDonald went up against a CBU player for a header. The Capers player missed the ball and instead made direct contact with MacDonald’s cheek.

“I was really dizzy after, but I didn’t think anything of it. I tried to play and then had a bit of a panic attack and then I just had to go down,” explains MacDonald.

She would go on to miss about three weeks of play die to concussion-like symptoms. As a very active person, it was hard for MacDonald to do nothing for almost a month and she would constantly get restless. Schoolwork became an issue for her too, and she missed many classes and assignments. She was forced to play catch-up for most of the semester.

“Once I was cleared to play, life became really stressful,” she says. “Not only was I trying to maintain good marks, I was also training twice as hard to get back into game shape.”

She explains that like any great team, there is never a shortage of players that want to step up and prove themselves. She was competing with girls who had been playing and training all year. She says it was hard not being on the field as much, but it was great to see everyone else step up, as they played to a second-place, 9-2-2 finish.

This off-season, she decided to stay in Nova Scotia and is playing with some fellow Dal players and Dal alumni for Dunbrack. She’s become more dedicated to her weight training regime, as well as increasing her daily cardio. She’s working on her left foot, and she says she’s learned a lot from older Dal players.

Watch MacDonald work for a prominent role with the Tigers this upcoming season, as they kick off their season at home on September 6 against Mount Allison.


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