Mustangs prevail in RVS girls soccer bronze-medal game
As she held her hands on the top of her head in between shots, it was easy to see the amount of pressure that George McDougall Mustangs goaltender Kendra Denchuk was under during the penalty shootout that decided the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) girls’ soccer bronze medal game at Monklands Soccer Park on Oct. 3.
But when the attempt by Sydney Karaja of the Bow Valley Bobcats sailed over the net, Denchuk breathed a sigh of relief and celebrated with her teammates as the Mustangs took a 4-3 win in the shootout, which gave them a 2-1 victory.
“That shootout was really nerve-wracking, and I don’t even know how I accomplished that, as I was so nervous,” Denchuk, who is a Grade 12 student at George McDougall, said. “I just tried to stay calm and focused when I was in the net, and I could take a look in their eyes and know where it (the shot) was going, which I think helped a lot.”
As the Mustangs celebrated its triumph on the field, Co-Head Coach Iain Cain was finally able to relax after he watched the shootout from the sidelines.
“It was a little nerve-wracking,” said Cain, who split coaching duties this season with Brooke Grosh. “I have been in the penalty shootout before as a player, but it is very different when you are watching on the sidelines as a coach.”
“But the end result was awesome, and to win this game was a good way to finish off the season,” he added.
Cain also sung the praises of Denchuk’s work in the Mustangs goal, as she made a number of key saves in regulation to help set the stage for the penalty shootout.
“Kendra wasn’t our starting goalie when the year began, but she stepped up and took over that role,” Cain said.
“I know that she was a little nervous, especially in the shootout, but she did great today.”
Prior to the shootout, both teams traded scoring chances during the course of the match, as the Bobcats and Mustangs both wanted to end their seasons on a winning note.
Dariel Smith gave the Bobcats the lead with a strike just before halftime, but Zoe Woolgar’s long-range effort for the Mustangs would tie the contest up early in the second half.
“The game was pretty even for the most part, and it was a very back-and-forth affair,” Cain said.
“I think they had a little bit more energy than we did in the first half, but we created a lot more chances in the second half.”
“We should have scored a few more goals to put the game out of sight, but we just weren’t able to capitalize on our chances,” he added.
Though the Mustangs were unable to make it into the RVSA finals (it lost 3-0 to the Springbank Phoenix in the semi-finals on Oct. 1), Cain said a win in the bronze-medal contest was a good way to finish the campaign off.
“We didn’t have any expectations going into the season, so to win our last game of the year was a nice way to wrap things up for the girls,” Cain said. “The core of the squad will be staying together next year, so we should be really good once again.”