Fujimoto connects twice as Queens down Lions in home opener

Kayla Yeo (11) and the Queens earned a victory to kick off the new season. Photo - Tony Hansen
Kayla Yeo (11) and the Queens earned a victory to kick off the new season. Photo - Tony Hansen

Brent Forster - RDC

Red Deer – The RDC Queens felt that they added more speed and offence this season, and in their opening home game of the 2018 – 19 season that added offensive punch was on display early. The Red Deer College Queens beat the Ambrose University Lions goalkeeper Karina Kurtzweg twice in each half and rolled to an impressive 4-1 victory.

Teryn Wright, a midfielder from Sherwood Park, scored first for the Queens in the 12th minute. After Kurzweg was drawn out to challenge the RDC ball carrier, Wright took control and fired a high shot that the Lions keeper couldn't completely corral.

The Queens played the majority of the half in the Lions' zone and that pressure paid off. RDC captured a 2-0 lead in the 21st minute when Mikayla Fujimoto, a first-year Bachelor of Education Elementary student, struck a laser into the top left corner past an outstretched arm of Kurtzweg.

Despite several offensive Queens' chances in the second half, Bethany Herman pulled the Lions within a goal in the 69th minute. But the RDC Queens responded about four minutes later to retain their two goal margin. After some pressure on the right side of the Lions' net, Alisha Coules took advantage of the open cage to propel the Queens ahead 3-1. With time winding down, on a penalty-kick Fujimoto scored her second goal of the game low to the right side and sealed a 4-1 victory.

Queens Head Coach Esad Elkaz appreciated the increased offensive output. "We talked about improving this year and we scored four goals in our first game today. Obviously we have a lot of speed and improvement from last year – a lot more offence," says Elkaz. "Even during exhibition, we scored 15 goals in our Red Deer tournament in four games. Last year, we only scored ten goals during the whole season. When we look at ball possession, we had it 85% of the time this afternoon. Possession doesn't mean anything if we don't score, but we did that today."

With a pair of goals, Mikayla Fuijimoto was named the player-of-the-game for the RDC Queens. Rachel Wolf received the honour for the Lions.

As a first-year student-athlete, Fujimoto was pleased with the result of her inaugural game in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC). "It went really well and we worked as a team. It feels good to get a few goals in my first game," says Fujimoto. "We've been working hard in our practices and that helped us succeed today. We have to keep using our speed and communicate for future success."

Elkaz was proud of Fujimoto and the Queens' cohesion. "I've known Mikayla since she was 10 years old, working with the Red Deer Renegades," says Elkaz. "Most of the ladies on the team are from the Renegades program, and our additions from Calgary, Edmonton and B.C. are all blending so beautifully now."  Eleven of the RDC Queens originate from central Alberta.

Despite a solid win, Elkaz wants the Queens to keep evolving their game. "I'm still looking at improving the speed of our play," says Elkaz. "That's my goal for the future."

The Queens will hit the road for a pair of games next weekend. The RDC Queens will face the Olds College Broncos at 12:00 p.m., Saturday, September 15. At 12:00 p.m., the SAIT Trojans will host the Queens, Sunday, September 16.