On November 13, the UTM Eagles beat St. George Black 1–0 in the Tri-Campus League finals — becoming the first-ever UTM women’s soccer team to win the tournament.
“[It] was an underdog… experience,” Emily Ševčík, fourth-year student at UTM and the team’s co-captain, explained in an interview with The Varsity. “Nobody expected us to win… it’s always St. George Red or St. George Black [who] win.”
Ševčík grew up playing center back, yet upon arrival at UTM, she began playing as a left winger and striker. The transition was a wise one — throughout the season and into the playoffs, Ševčík recorded a total of five goals, including the winning goal in the final. She’s fast, aggressive, and has a really good shot — in the semifinal, she scored a goal from the halfway line.
“As a kid, I was really athletic [and] really out there,” explained Ševčík. “I did dance, ballet, gymnastics, skating, swimming, hockey… [and] soccer.”
“I didn’t like soccer at all,” Ševčík stated. Yet, her father coached the team. Originally planning to quit, Ševčík changed her mind when she scored her first-ever goal.
“If it wasn’t for my dad… [telling me] don’t give up, and if it wasn’t for me scoring that goal, I probably wouldn’t be here today,” she explained. “As I started playing [soccer] more, I started loving soccer.”
Her love for soccer grew as she began university. In her first year at UTM, she played on UTM’s Varsity team.
As a first-year student surrounded by more experienced players, Ševčík felt pressured. She was still determined to succeed, yet her experience was relatively short, as the program got discontinued during the pandemic. Despite this setback, Ševčík has continued to play soccer in the Tri-Campus League.
Yet, playing on the new team wasn’t easy. “The entire team was new,” she explained. “I didn’t know anybody [and] nobody knew each other.” This was made more challenging as the team only practiced together once a week.
“With a team sport like soccer you have to practice a lot together… [to] get to know each other’s style of play,” she explained. “It was pretty difficult for us to get to know each other as players.”
In the very first game of the season, the team lost 4–2 to the St. George Red. “It was pretty demoralizing,” Ševčík reflected. The team was dysfunctional and barely practicing, and she questioned whether the work she put in was worth it.
When recounting the loss, Ševčík stated “[This] group of girls… are really dedicated, really good soccer players.” As one of the more experienced players, she recognized her responsibility to lead her team and put herself out there to motivate them.
Results began flowing in. For the rest of the season, the Eagles only lost one more game and ended up finishing second in the league. In the playoffs, the Eagles triumphed over St. George Red to secure a spot in the final — the first time a UTM team had done so.
Going into the final, there was a lot of pressure on the team, especially on Ševčík and her fellow co-captain and goalkeeper, Mackenzie Kieswetter. “Everyone was expecting me to… score,” Ševčík explained. “And they were obviously expecting [Mackenzie] to… save everything.”
Before the game, Ševčík high fived everyone, getting them excited. The nerves among the team were evident. “I knew that if we were going into that game nervous [or] really scared, we weren’t going to do well,” she explained.
However, Ševčík struck the ball into the net in the first three minutes of the game. “Everybody went crazy,” she stated. “The people… on the bench, everyone on the field.” It’s a memory that stands out the strongest for Ševčík. The game became much more defensive as the Eagles tried to preserve their lead, yet they still dominated from the start to finish. In the final minutes of the game, Kieswetter made a crucial diving save — another moment embedded in Ševčík’s head.
“As soon as that save was done, the ref blew the whistle and the game was done,” Ševčík explained. “After the game, we were all on a high.”
For the upcoming summer, Ševčík plans to try out for some League1 Ontario teams — Ontario’s semi-professional soccer league. Meanwhile, the indoor season starts in January and after falling short during the last indoor season, Ševčík plans to win. Additionally, as a fifth-year student, she plans to help the Eagles defend their Tri-Campus championship next fall when the outdoor season starts again.
Ševčík explained that her experience at U of T might have been better if she was still playing soccer with the Varsity team, but eventually said, “I’m still playing Tri-Campus [League] and I made a whole bunch of friends.”
“I just continue to play [soccer] because I love playing… as long as I’m playing soccer, that’s what makes me happy,” said Ševčík.