Passion keeps her going strong - The Province


Winning record enough to explain why Sian Bagshawe's still around

By Marc Weber

Signs that Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Sian Bagshawe has been around for a while: 1. The girls she's fending off for a starting position she coached as kids.

"Steph [Panozzo] started calling me grandma and I said, 'Do not call me grandma,'" said Bagshawe.

2. Her body feels different than it used to after practices and games.

"I have recovery sessions now, and contrast baths. I haven't had to do that before." 3. She now holds the record for most career wins by a Whitecaps women's goalkeeper, and she's done it despite rarely being the No. 1 option since joining the club in 2002 out of UBC.

"It means a lot to know that I've been able to stick around for this long," said the 29-year-old, signing her last autograph a full 30 minutes after Wednesday's 3-1 home win over Ventura County. "It's a great culture within the club, so it's worthwhile to be patient." The victory kept slim playoff hopes alive. Three must-win games remain, starting Sunday against Real Colorado at Coquitlam's Percy Perry Stadium.

It was also Bagshawe's 28th career win for the club, stretched out over seven seasons, often as Plan B, sometimes as Plan C.

That's one more win than national team goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who's now with the Washington Freedom of Women's Professional Soccer.

McLeod never lost a game with Vancouver, going 27-0-5 with 18 shutouts. Bagshawe is 28-9-4 with 17 shutouts. The milestone, though, is still noteworthy.

"It says a lot about her character," said defender and assistant coach Randee Hermus, who's been a Whitecap since 2001.

"She's stuck it out no matter if she's been a starter, a backup or not even playing.

"Sian has that passion for soccer and she's wanted to be that starting keeper and lead a winning team." It almost happened in 2005 when McLeod missed the season with a shoulder injury. Bagshawe posted seven shutouts to help Vancouver to a 13-1 record, but in the playoff semifinal, the Caps lost 2-1 to a powerhouse New Jersey team.

It's unlikely to happen this season, as the Caps (2-2-5) need to catch Seattle (3-0-5) for the second Western Conference playoff spot.

Next season, Bagshawe could be back on the bench -- the reliable, resilient veteran.

Former under-20 keeper Jaclyn Dunnett was hurt at the start of this season and is now off with the World University Games team in Serbia. Panozzo, 19, is an up-and-comer for Canada and will push for more starts.

Regardless, it doesn't sound like the fire is going out any time soon.

"Every year I want to keep going, I work towards playing for the Whitecaps," said Bagshawe, a coaching junkie who runs goalkeeping sessions for the West Vancouver Soccer Club, Sentinel Soccer Academy, Total Soccer Systems and Simon Fraser University. She's also the corporate teams co-ordinator for the Sun Run, working 9 a.m.-9 p.m. between jobs for four months of the year.

"Whether it's by default or whether it's because of something you did in training, you just keep working hard and hope you get a start." For some, records require patience as much as skill.

mweber@theprovince.com