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Soccer squad sets playoffs as season's goal

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THE start to the 2012 Manitoba Bisons women's soccer season is underway.

Tuesday marked the beginning of training camp as 26 players took to the field at the University of Manitoba, looking to crack a team that is undergoing some major changes both on and off the field.

Their first task is to replace the hole left by the departures of Canada West all-star Carrie Nash, forward Paula Fast and veteran defender Michelle Kliment.

Expected to soften the blow will be the return of fifth-year forward Alison Kastner and captains Rhoni Mackenzie and Julie Lafreniere.

Hadyn Sloane-Seale will also get his first taste as head coach of the team after former bench-boss Chris Lewis stepped down for personal reasons after only two seasons. Sloane-Seale was given the promotion after finishing the 2011 season as an assistant coach.

"I'm excited to get on the pitch with this young team," he said in a press release Tuesday. "A realistic goal this season is to make the playoffs."

The team's last visit to the post-season came in 2008, when the club finished with a 7-6-1 record. Since then, the team has only managed to record 10 wins over the past three seasons.

Manitoba will play their first game at home on Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. The home opener of the 2012 season will be two days later, Sept. 9 at noon. All home games will be played at the U of M outdoor turf fields (west).

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