Sarah Mitchell: X-Woman turned Tiger

Soccer star continues playing for Dalhousie after switching from St. F.X.

Former teammates Sarah Mitchell (right) and Nicole Melong (far left) square off in a varsity soccer game in October. (Photo: Jessica Burns)

Dalhousie University Tigers varsity women's soccer coach Jack Hutchison never forgot Sarah Mitchell's performance at the Atlantic University Sport championships in 2009.

"She scored a goal against us in the semi-final," Hutchison recalls, and he "did not like it." But, he admits, "she played very well."

Hutchison was "very excited and pleased" when the 22-year-old Dartmouth native contacted him about joining his team this year.

During her first four years of university, Mitchell played for St. Francis Xavier University's varsity women's soccer team, the X-Women, while earning a bachelor of science in human kinetics.

She was named most valuable player of the tournament last season after St. F.X. beat Dalhousie in the AUS semi-finals and then went on to win the championship game.

This year, her former St. F.X. teammates have reluctantly handed Mitchell to the Tigers, where she will play for her fifth and final year of Canadian Interuniversity Sport eligibility.

"Under the CIS eligibility rules, players need to sit out for one year if they are transferring into a new school," explains AUS executive director Phil Currie.

"However, there are instances where a student will switch schools because their current school does not offer a particular field of study."

This allowed Mitchell to take the field as a Dal Tiger this year.

"I knew after my undergraduate I was definitely interested in coming to Dalhousie to take physiotherapy. I was always kind of thinking in the back of my mind, if I got accepted would I play?" she says.

"I thought it would be really hard at first just because there is a huge rivalry among the teams and Dal was always our biggest rival."

Former teammate and current St. F.X. soccer captain, Nicole Melong, vouches for the rivalry between the two teams.

"They always get a lot of our players because they have a graduate program. So that adds to the fire."

As for Mitchell's choice to join the Tigers, Melong says, "I wasn't surprised at all because I know how much she loves to play soccer. I was sad, obviously, because she's so good. She's the best player I've ever played with technically."

Mitchell and the Tigers played St. F.X. for the first time this season at St. F.X.'s homecoming. "It was a little weird," admits Melong, "but, everyone on our team was prepared for it I think and we just saw her as another player. We called her by her number."

"It was different being on the opposite side of the rivalry," says Mitchell, "but it was a good game and we ended up playing really, really well by the end of it. And we beat them."

The final score was 3-0 for the Tigers, with Mitchell contributing an assist.

The standings as of the end of October looked eerily similar to last year's, with the Dal Tigers undefeated in their regular season and St. F.X. tied for fourth.

Mitchell scored seven career goals with St. F.X. So far this year, she has one goal and one assist with the Tigers.

"We don't like to play her because she's so good," Melong jokes. "But we know she has weak ankles."

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