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Beckie eyes glory with Texas Tech, Canada, NWSL

Janine Beckie looks like a star of the future for Canada, but first she looks to end her career with a championship with Texas Tech. (Photo Courtesy Canada Soccer)

Janine Beckie looks like a star of the future for Canada, but first she looks to end her career with a championship with Texas Tech. (Photo Courtesy Canada Soccer)

It has been a busy year for Janine Beckie.

Over the past 12 months, the Texas Tech senior earned her first cap with the Canadian national team, took a semester off for residency, started at the Pan Am Games and is now with the Texas Tech Red Raiders hoping to lead them to glory in the postseason.

The last year has, of course, been full of up and downs for the forward, from wearing the Canadian jersey with the full team for the first time, to narrowly missing out on making the 2015 World Cup roster.

“It was a tough situation prior to the Pan Ams, after being named as an alternate for the World Cup, obviously,” Beckie told The Equalizer. “I was happy about being an alternate, not too happy about not making the squad but that was what it was and when they did tell me about the World Cup they also guaranteed me a spot for the Pan Am team, so I had to shift my focus pretty quickly to that team.”

Although not making the World Cup roster was disappointing, Beckie did develop the mental side of her game while in residency with Canada last spring. During the camp, which she admits was an emotional roller coaster, she was constantly asking herself questions like, ‘What are my coaches thinking?, Why am I here?’ She hadn’t experienced this before. Beckie worked with Canada’s mental coach to work through this.

“It’s just about learning how to control the situation that you’re in,” she says. “Being positive through adversity and times where you’re struggling in terms of performance and things like that so…I think it’s definitely translated to this season (with Texas Texas) and my leadership.”

[JOHAL: Discussions held about Canadian NWSL teams, CSA president says]

Canada head coach John Herdman and rest of his staff decided to send a youthful squad to the Pan Am Games in July as way to evaluate new talent on the heels on the Women’s World Cup, where on home soil Canada exited in the quarterfinals.

Although Beckie was only 20 years old at the time, her coaches told her that she’d be one of the leaders of Canada’s Pan Am team. Beckie admits it was “weird” to take on a leadership role at her age but she thinks she showed Canada that she’s not only committed to playing for them, but committed to making a difference for the program as well.

The forward scored two goals in the first game of the tournament against Ecuador but failed to score again in the tournament, which was held in Hamilton, Ontario. Beckie admits that she could have performed better in the tournament with respect to scoring goals. Canada fell short of the podium, losing to Mexico in the bronze-medal match.

Beckie played a significant role offensively in the Ecuador game, but that’s almost an afterthought given the way the contest unfolded. Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe was red-carded after her side had used all three of its substitutions. As a result, Beckie was forced into emergency keeper duty. Before the game, she had actually joked that she was okay with going into goal in the unlikely event the need arose.

“When Stephanie got the red card I kinda looked over to the bench and (our goalkeeper coach) was like go for it…Let’s just say I don’t think I’ll be making another appearance as goalkeeper anytime soon,” Beckie said. “It was a pretty laid back situation given the score at the time, but if it had been a close game I’m not sure that I would have volunteered as quickly as I did.”

Now back with Texas Tech, Beckie is applying her experiences over the past year to her senior NCAA season. The leadership role she was thrust into during the Pan Am games has proved advantageous as a senior for the Red Raiders, who welcomed a large class of 14 freshmen this fall.

The Red Raiders have advanced to the semifinals of the Big XII conference tournament this week, where they’ll face West Virginia, the No. 2 team in the country. Beckie would like nothing more than to add a trophy to Texas Tech’s case, something the team hasn’t done in her time with the program.

In order to get the final Sunday, Beckie will have to beat two players she spent a lot of time with last spring and summer: Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence. Both players, in addition to being stars on the Mountaineers squad, represented Canada in the World Cup and Pan Am Games last summer. Beckie admitted last month before the regular-season showdown between the two teams that it’s weird to face her Canadian compatriots.

“It’s really strange because they’ll also become two of my really close friends,” Beckie said. “It’s always fun to play against friends and teammates on other teams, but it’s also tough to think about because they are two great players, especially with Kadeisha playing in the position opposite of mine. We will literally be facing each other, but it’s an extremely cool experience to have that opportunity to play against friends and teammates.”

West Virginia won the regular-season match between the two sides, 4-0, so Beckie will likely need to generate some offense if the Red Raiders are to come out on top in this one.

As Beckie aims to bring a title back to Lubbock, Texas, she also has her eyes on the future as well. To her, it’s all about finding the right balance.

“I’m doing what I need to do here to accomplish what we’ve set in front of us and I definitely don’t want to leave Texas Tech without a title after everything that my class has been through here,” she said. “But there is a sense of I have to think about that as well because that’s just the reality now. I’m constantly in contact with our Canadian staff and making sure that I’m doing the right things physically and technically to be ready to be back in that environment and they have told me that I will have another opportunity to do.”

In addition to her future with the Canadian national team, Beckie is also planning on entering the 2016 NWSL College Draft. Last January, Beckie’s Red Raiders teammate Jaelene Hinkle was drafted by the Western New York Flash. Hinkle made her debut for the U.S. national team on Oct. 21 against Brazil.

“She got in there and realized how tough it was,” Beckie said about her former teammate adapting to the NWSL. “She’s up for the challenge and I talked to her through that and she encourages me to take that opportunity and try to play, which I definitely want to do. It was really cool to see her success continue from here to there.”

On Friday (6:30 p.m. ET, Big 12 Digital Network), the conference’s offensive player of the year will try to get Texas Tech one step closer to a championship.


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