U Prairie Challenge Presented by SaskMilk begins with women’s soccer

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: September 7, 2022 1:00 p.m.

The University of Regina Cougars women’s soccer team starting lineup for the Sept. 2 game against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Cougars and Huskies tied 3-3 in the first game of the U Prairie Challenge presented by SaskMilk.
The University of Regina Cougars women’s soccer team starting lineup for the Sept. 2 game against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Cougars and Huskies tied 3-3 in the first game of the U Prairie Challenge presented by SaskMilk. Credit: Mimi Lockhurst

The inaugural U Prairie Challenge presented by SaskMilk is officially underway – and watching the varsity sports rivalry play out between the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan has fans invested early on.

More than 500 people took in the 2022-23 challenge opener on Sept. 2 at Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon, where the U of R Cougars and the USask Huskies women’s soccer teams battled to a 3-3 draw.

“We were super excited that our soccer game was the opening game for the U Prairie Challenge,” said Cougars head coach Astrid Baecker.

The Huskies opened the scoring, but Cougars fought back and were leading 3-2 as the clock ticked down. With less than 30 seconds to go, the Huskies leveled the playing field.

The U Prairie Challenge is an annual, year-long competition that includes 11 varsity sports, each worth one point.  There are two women’s soccer games in the challenge this season. Since the first one resulted in a tie, each school is being awarded 0.25 of the point. The outcome of the next game at the University of Regina Field on October 7 will determine how the rest of the point is allocated.

“We want to represent and get points for the university,” said Baecker, whose team doesn’t intend to let the win slip away again. 

She hopes a comparable – if not bigger crowd – comes out to cheer when the Cougars play on home turf.

“We want the stands to be packed,” Baecker said.

The Cougars women’s soccer team plans to show its support for the other athletes playing in the U Prairie Challenge.

“We’ve already marked down the football game,” Baecker said. “We’re all going as a team and we’re going to be as loud and rowdy as we can.”

The U of R Rams football team will play the USask Huskies at Mosaic Stadium in Regina on the evening of September 17 as part of Football Weekend in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders will play the Edmonton Elks the night prior. The Regina Thunder and Saskatoon Hilltops’ minor teams will play an afternoon game ahead of the university contest. In between, there will be a family-friendly tailgate party in REAL District’s Confederation Park and a special performance by Canadian singer, rapper and songwriter Roy Wood$.

Bundled tickets are available now.

Veteran Rams offensive lineman Maguire Abell thinks the U of R will be competitive. 

“Any time we get to play the guys up north, it’s a close game,” he said.

Abell said he and his teammates have been training hard during the off-season and are ready to perform.

“I’ve played with and against three-quarters of their roster ever since growing up,” Abell said. “It just breeds a great rivalry.”