Leading up to the 2017 Summer Universiade taking place in Taipei City Aug.19-30, U SPORTS profiles the athletes set to don the Maple Leaf in our weekly feature series "Meet Team Canada."
By Alana Thoman, U SPORTS Correspondent
After being cut from Team Quebec three times, Arielle Roy-Petitclerc had doubts about her soccer career.
But as with most hardships, athletes learn to get up and keep fighting. Roy-Petitclerc was no different.
Having just completed her fourth year with the Laval Rouge et Or where she won a second U SPORTS national title in three seasons, the veteran says her hard work combined with the confidence she obtained following the devastating moment has led her to the success she has gained to this day.
“I wasn’t going to play anymore,” says Roy-Petitclerc. “But right now I’m still here and I think I am stronger now because of that.”
She wouldn’t regret the decision.
At four years old, the St. Nicolas, Que., native decided to follow in her sister’s footsteps and take up soccer. She has stuck with the game ever since, now going on 20 years as an integral part of her life.
Roy-Petitclerc’s success has only grown stronger over two decades of experience, after being crowned the winner of the 2017 BLG Award as U SPORTS Female Athlete of the Year. She ended the season with 18 points in 14 games, tied for third in the nation and earning her women’s soccer Player of the Year honours.
Roy-Petitclerc admits she was surprised to capture the BLG Award on May 1 in Calgary.
“Oh my goodness I didn’t expect that,” she says. “It was just surprising for me and it was the biggest thing I have ever won so that was crazy for me. It was nice after all of this effort that I (put forth) this year.”
Laval head coach Helder Duarte says the keys to Roy-Petitclerc’s success are her attitude, discipline and her great leadership.
“She has the ability to play in small spaces quickly and efficiently. I’ve never coached a player who does this as well as she does,” says Duarte of his captain. “On top of that, she has an above average vision of the game which allows her to make decisive passes.
“She is an incredible leader who leads by example. She is always there in important moments and that is what is impressive to me.”
Roy-Petitclerc is currently playing for Calgary Foothills FC in United Women’s Soccer (UWS), a second-division semi-pro league in the North American women’s soccer system. It’s her second season in UWS, after winning the league championship in 2016 with the Santa Clarita Blue Heat.
In addition to her success at Laval and at the pro level, Roy-Petitclerc has represented Canada on the international stage in South Korea, as part of the 2015 Summer Universiade squad which came in fourth – the team’s best-ever result.
Peyvand Mossavat, Team Canada head coach at the 2015 FISU Games, will have Roy-Petitclerc in the midfield again this summer, as the pair return for their second straight Summer Universiade in Chinese Taipei.
“She is so passionate about soccer, she wants the opportunity to play at the high level and she is ambitious with her soccer goals,” says Mossavat. “Playing for Team Canada at the FISU Games is something that she took very seriously and wanted to do well for the team, so she has fully committed herself to this.”
Mossavat commended Roy-Petitclerc’s work ethic in the 2015 tournament, after the Laval star battled through an injury but was able to return through her commitment on the field.
Joëlle Gosselin, Roy-Petitclerc’s teammate at Laval as well as Team Canada this summer, says her determination towards the game is one of her key attributes.
“She is a leader by the way she is playing on the field and by the way she takes everything so seriously about soccer,” says Gosselin, who also participated in the 2015 Universiade alongside Roy-Petitclerc, and is one of six Rouge et Or players set to represent Canada in August. “She makes you want to follow her.”
Gosselin adds after only one year with Laval she was already a leader, and says Roy-Petitclerc has helped her grow as a player.
“We play really close together so we have a connection but also on the outside because she gives me her passion,” says Gosselin. “She’s always working and she’s always doing everything perfectly.”
Roy Petitclerc will look to bring home Canada’s first-ever women’s soccer medal at a Summer Universiade when the tournament begins Aug. 20.