BY COLE SHELTON
Sheridan’s women’s soccer team has taken a huge step forward this season after a 5-5 record last year. To begin the 2018 season, the Bruins are 6-0 and a big reason behind their success is striker Zoe Derkach. It’s her first year as a Bruin, but she sure isn’t playing like a rookie.
Through six games, Derkach is leading the Bruins in scoring with nine goals, including two game-winning goals.
“Honestly, I just really wanted to focus on getting those goals in. I have always been a soccer player like that, and I always focus on the amount of goals,” Derkach said. “I just continue to work hard and go into the game knowing that I am going to score and envision the ball going into the back of the net.”
With the help of Derkach, Sheridan is now ranked 11th in Canada, a huge surprise for the Bruins, especially after a mediocre year last season.
While Derkach has been the star of the team, head coach Paul Angelini knew Derkach would play at this high level.
“We are not surprised that she is scoring consistently, working hard and supporting her teammates,” said Angelini. “We believed she would be a success the first time she stepped on the practice field.”
— Sheridan Bruins (@sheridanbruins) September 11, 2018
Even with Derkach having so much success, one question is why she didn’t play soccer for Sheridan sooner.
“So it’s actually my fourth-year at Sheridan. I’ve always played soccer, and my first couple of years I actually didn’t want to play. I wanted to focus more on my academics (Early Childhood Leadership),” said Derkach. “I really wanted to play soccer all four years. I don’t know why I didn’t get to it. I like the coach, Paul really stuck out to me and I did like the team. I feel like I joined because I knew we could have a good team and this was our year as well.”
A good team is exactly what the Bruins have been, and after a hot start, the coaching staff knows they have a strong team.
“The coaching staff believe that getting to the OCAA championships as one of the eight teams is not out of the question,” Angelini added. “In fact, the expectation is to get to the final four. Once you get there, anything can happen.”
Anything can happen is right, especially with Derkach on the field.
The lead goal scorer has always been a soccer player, playing rep soccer — most recently for North Mississauga SC, as their captain — her whole life and being one of the better players on the field. However, college is different, the talent is better and for the fourth-year student, she had lofty goals for herself, despite all that.
“For myself, my expectations were to provide the team with goals, and wins too,” the Brampton native said. “I just felt like my role as a striker is to get the ball in the back of the net, and help my team out anyway as possible.”
Helping the team is out is exactly what Derkach has been doing, and the coaching staff agrees.
“She has been our offensive leader. She is putting in the hard work as our lone striker,” said Angelini. “Her work ethic is second to none and as a consequence of her commitment to working hard, she is producing multiple scoring opportunities each game. Not surprisingly, she is our leading scorer.”
While Derkach and the Bruins are continuing the hot streak, with just four games left before playoffs, and two against the undefeated Humber Hawks, they need to perform. Getting two wins over the Hawks would skyrocket the Bruins up the Canadian rankings and show they are the best team in Ontario.
With the team being tight-knit and having success, it has been a fun experience for Derkach. However, it also shows her what she missed by not playing in her first three years at Sheridan.
“It’s great. It has honestly been such a great time. I do regret not playing from first-year, and it does suck knowing that this is my only season with them,” added Derkach. “It has been a great season so far and it is very exciting to see how the rest of the season is going to happen and how it will go. It has been good, I love the girls.”
Derkach is a legitimate superstar for the Bruins and is giving them a chance to play for the OCAA title. With the season winding down, however, Derkach doesn’t really know what is next. The goal is to graduate and see where life takes her.
For now, it is focusing on the remaining games and looking to bring a championship back to Sheridan.
“We just need to stick together, remain confident and not let anything bother us.”