U of C Dinos soccer star Montana Leonard kicks her way into the record books
Montana Leonard loves to score goals and she's found the net a lot since joining the University of Calgary's Dinos women's soccer program in 2016.This year was the best she's ever had.
On the weekend, the 23 year old scored her 17th goal of the season against Grant MacEwan University, a goal that broke the single-season conference scoring record that was previously set by Janine Frazao of The University of British Columbia in 2011.
Leonard says it was an amazing feeling to break the record.
"It felt really good, and I turned around and saw my whole team running at me," Leonard said.
"It was a pretty unreal feeling – and I haven't felt like that before – so it was pretty surreal, I guess that's the best way to describe it.
"There's been a lot of talk about it ,and I've definitely tried not to focus on it too much because I obviously just want to focus on the game and winning. but as soon as it happened obviously it clicked in my head and it was pretty cool."
FILLING THE NET
In her fifth and final year with the Dinos, Leonard has scored 36 regular season goals, which is the most in the program's history. She said she believes there's a few things that make her a good scorer.
"I would maybe say instinct and just always looking for the net," the midfielder said.
I'm also surrounded by some of the best players, so I think the environment – plus always wanting to score and being driven like that – it's a good combination."
HEADING TO THE PLAYOFFS
The Dinos finished the regular season with a 12-3-2 record, good enough for second place in the Canada West Central Division.
Losing the last game of the regular season to MacEwan on the weekend cost them first place, and it means they have to travel to Saskatoon to start the playoffs.
Leonard says they can't be taking the 7-2-2 Huskies lightly.
"Yeah we definitely have to mentally dial in and focus just on next weekend and not look ahead to what's after that.
"We've had a few ups and downs, but I think it's good to learn from that, and also think that it's good that it happened in those harder games before the playoffs, and we really know how to dig in and get gritty and win those games when we need to."
ONE LAST SHOT
Leonard is actually in her sixth year at the U of C, and already has her degree in communications. She was allowed to come back for her fifth and final year because U Sports was cancelled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leonard says she's grateful to be able to comeback for one final season because it was hard the way things ended in 2019; the Dinos lost 1-0 to UBC in the National Championship final.
Leonard says she'd love to have another crack at winning it all.
"The last time we played was the national final and we didn't know if we would get another chance to come back and finish that," she said.
"Especially with it being my senior year and with some of my best friends it was really sad.
"So it means the world that I can do this again and we can have another run at it, and I can feel sort of complete and give it one last shot."
The game against Saskatoon is on Friday night with a 7 p.m. kickoff; the winner will go to the Canada West final four.
The National Championships are being held in Sydney, Nova Scotia, this year from November 18th to 21st.