Monday, March 28, 2005

UWO Soccer Reaches Peak

By KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press
March 28, 2005

Dave Peak had just been handed the reins of the Western women's soccer program yesterday.

His first order of business was to tell the players and others gathered for a news conference to announce his hiring that he plans to lead the team to a national title.

"I hope I can bring something here . . . to win a CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) championship," he said.

The Mustangs have had great regular-season success the past couple of years -- including being the top-ranked team in the country --but they have never won a medal in six appearances at the national tournament.

Peak, who comes to Western after nine seasons as coach of the Fanshawe women's team, said the Mustangs have lots of talent.

They just need to get over the national "stumbling block."

"One thing I can bring is a professional attitude," he said. "Hopefully, we can win the gold medal. Hopefully, it will be sooner than later."

Sarah Regan, a third-year Mustangs forward, said the team has the same goal of winning a national title and the players hope Peak is the one to take them there.

"He's very qualified." Regan said. "It's a nice change as well, someone new with lots of experience."

Peak is the Ontario Soccer Association's regional development coach for this area and, in May, begins duties as the coach of the under-16 girls' provincial team.

Because of his access to top players in the province and beyond, Peak, who has worked with national team phenom Kara Lang, feels recruitment will be one of his strong suits.

"The recruiting net needs to be enlarged. I know people right across the country.

"I know certain people in the big clubs. Hopefully, we can touch base and they can send potential athletes here."

Peak said that although he can't offer players scholarships, he believes Western's status can attract them.

Western had more than 20 coaches apply for the position, which became vacant when two-year coach Mike Van Bussel left to concentrate on his studies.

Mike Lysko, Western's director of sports and recreation services, said Peak's coaching experience and his focus on teaching were the primary reasons why he was hired.

Lysko said he also came to understand the importance of women's soccer in London through the hiring process.

"I gained a keener appreciation of . . . what this team means to the community."

Peak has coached with North London, London United and the London Portuguese men during his 20 years in London.

His assistant coach is Peter Young.