Knights retain footy title
Soccer: Holy Trinity Academy routs Foothills in final
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 06:00 am
The high school girls soccer crown is staying on the north side of Okotoks.
Paced by hat-trick performances from strikers Nicole Degenstein and Brooklyn Smith, the Holy Trinity Academy (HTA) Knights cruised to an 8-2 romp over the Foothills Falcons Thursday at Riverside Park, to repeat as Foothills Athletic Council (FAC) champions.
“We just focused before the game on not being too cocky even though we do have the skill on our team to make sure we don’t lose,” said Degenstein, a Grade 12 student. “We had to work a lot harder this year just because there was more competition with the Comp and other teams were better than last year.
“Our girls really came together and were down to earth this year about it.”
The Knights captain didn’t waste any time setting an early tone. Just three minutes into the final, Degenstein was sprung on a clear-cut breakaway and after her initial shot was stopped she buried the rebound.
“I just wanted to quickly get the first goal in and get the morale of the game high,” said Degenstein on the importance of the great start. “So all of the team would feel really motivated to push forward.”
The plan worked flawlessly.
Degenstein’s striking partner soon doubled the lead with a terrific touch of skill as Smith found space on the edge of the box and calmly curled the ball into the top corner. Left-midfielder Emily McIlveen made it a three-goal game and in quick succession fed Degenstein for a tap-in to make it 4-0 midway through the first-half.
Degenstein locked down the rare first-half hat-trick when she again found herself behind the Falcons’ defence and lifted a powerful shot which went off the keeper and in. Smith then added her second goal of the half.
Foothills stopped the bleeding, albeit momentarily, on the counterattack when Grade 12 striker Caitlin Dales blitzed down the right wing and found the back of the net. Before the Falcons could celebrate, Knights midfielder Kate Mundy completed the first-half scoring off a nice passing play on the left flank.
The Falcons narrowed the gap shortly into the second half when Shannon Jones was brought down in the box, leading to a penalty kick awarded to the Falcons. Dales stepped up and confidently converted with a low corner strike.
Jones, the catalyst of Foothills’ attack with tireless work in the centre of the pitch, looked to have cut the deficit further before her curling left-footed strike hit the outside of the post.
The Knights would see the result out when Smith found room on the right wing to again chip the ball into the far corner to complete her three-goal game. HTA added two more late goals, but the result was officially ruled an 8-2 game with the mercy rule in effect.
The consecutive league banner was an atonement of sorts for HTA. The Knights finished third at the South Central Zones in Cochrane the weekend prior. HTA picked up titles in both league and zone play last season.
“The attitude on the team this year was amazing. Every one just wants to try their hardest,” said Knights sweeper Claire Thorimbert. “We had a lot to live up to from our last season so I don’t think anybody wanted to give up our title.”
The Knights ensured the championship was in safe hands by being cognizant of Foothills’ direct, counterattacking style.
“Shannon Jones and CJ (Caitlin) Dales, they’re both really fast, really skilled players and they were able to find through balls on us,” Thorimbert said. “We found ourselves having to run back because of those two.”
Dales, following the swan song of her high school career, was quick to credit her opponents’ ability to keep possession for most of the 90 minutes.
“We weren’t focused this game. We can’t win if we don’t have the ball,” Dales said. “They’re just an awesome team.”
Foothills finished in sixth place at zones with a record of 1-3, a mark which may have diluted team spirit in advance of the league final.
“We lost confidence at zones,” said Grade 12 Falcon Coral Chubak. “We got really frustrated and I think it went into this game too.”
It was an up-and-down season for the maroon-clad Falcons. The team showed great promise in winning its opening three matches by a combined margin of 19-1. However, cracks in the foundation began to appear down the stretch.
“We worked as a team in the beginning of the season,” Dales said. “And then throughout the season we began to break apart.”
For more information on high school girls soccer visit foothillsathletics.ca