Even mention the 2013 Regis women’s soccer season and you are likely to get this reaction of of Sade Akindele:
“Ugh,” she said.
The Rangers entered last season the three-time Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champs and had their sights set on a fourth when the injury bug bit before the season even started.
Akindele, a former standout at Legacy, tore her knee up playing an indoor game over the summer and missed the first part of the season rehabbing and regaining her strength.
“When I came back, I just wanted to be able to contribute in some way,” said Akindele, who despite missing the first five games of the season still finished third on the team with 10 points. “So I know a lot of the girls were excited about just having a full roster when I came back. We didn’t have the success we were hoping for last year.”
Regis coach J.B. Belzer was equally excited to get the reigning RMAC Freshman of the Year back, and just in time.
“The whole team was in a funk at that point,” he said. “When she came back it helped us out of the funk a little bit, she scored a couple of game-winners at critical moments and helped us recover in time to get to the conference tournament.”
One of those game-winners came in the quarterfinals of the RMAC tournament against New Mexico Highlands. The Rangers would bow out of the tournament two days later against Colorado Mines.
With the start of the regular season less than a month away, Akindele and the rest of the Rangers are at full strength and eager to return to their spot at the top of the conference standings and hopefully a return trip to the NCAA tournament.
After missing her true freshman season at Regis after tearing her ACL in her final spring at Legacy, Akindele — who was granted a medical redshirt — led the team with 34 points, including 14 goals en route to winning Freshman of the Year honors.
“She promptly came in her first year of playing with us and set the conference on fire,” Belzer said.
A natural goal scorer, Akindele, understands that for the Rangers to get where they want to be, her well-rounded game will have to evolve into something even more special.
“I know that my position requires me to score goals, and I know that is what the team is looking for me to do. But also with assisting, I can do just as much by setting up players,” said Akindele, who played this summer with some teammates on a Westminster U23 team. “Being a center forward, you have to know when it is time to take the shot and when it is time to pass and just having that powerful presence up top.”
Said Belzer: “She does kind of have a pure goal scoring ability that is difficult to teach. There are things in her game that are still evolving like how she turns and some decision making and releasing shots from a technical perspective, but her ability to find herself in the right positions around goal and the strength and power of her shot when she connects fully is quite impressive.”
In addition to her summer play, Akindele — a double major in both marketing and international business — spent the final few weeks before the season vacationing with family on Vancouver Island in Canada. A native of Calgary, Akindele’s mother Nina and her family still reside in Canada. Her father Toks is from Nigeria and in December of 2015, Sade will get a chance to visit for the first time.
“I’m so excited,” she said.
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