Knights weather the storm to repeat title
Soccer: HTA outlasts Canmore 2-1 amidst wild weather to take FAC banner
Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017 06:00 am
The Holy Trinity Academy Knights fought a battle on two fronts reclaim their banner.
Combating a ferocious cross wind and torrential downpour the Knights weathered the storm to edge the Canmore Crusaders 2-1 on Oct.. 17 at Riverside Park to earn its second straight senior girls soccer Foothills Athletic Council championship.
“In the morning no one was expecting it to be like that,” said Knights holding midfielder Jenna Tiedje. “We all were really excited to play, but when we got there it was really windy, the nets were flying away and we realized it was going to be a crazy game. It started to pour, everybody was not really wanting to be there and ready to go home.
“At halftime everyone was freezing and wet and our coaches said nope, we’re going to play this out.”
Good thing they did.
Neither team could gain significant ground in a first-half in which Mother Nature was the only victor.
Clearances through the air, throw-ins and headers more often than not ended up on the sidelines.
“It was hard to see, especially when the weather was really bad around halftime,” said Knights full-back Lauren Sinclair. “We tried to keep the ball on the ground and work together because we can’t do it by ourselves especially when it was like that.”
Undaunted, the Knights managed to open the scoring through industrious midfielder Brielle Masse.
The Grade 10 student calmly deposited a left-footed strike into the far corner 15 minutes into the half. The visitors evened the score on a somewhat fortuitous bounce as a wobbly shot from distance found its way past HTA goalkeeper Andrea Lafont.
The latter more than made up for it later in the half when she made a miraculous save in tight when a powerful shot from the Crusaders struck the face of the keeper, who was down for several moments while Knights defenders managed to clear the danger.
The second half saw the weather calm down significantly leaving only the dusk-like brightness and a light breeze to contend with.
Masse used that wind to her advantage, lifting a free kick from distance to the far post and with some help from the gusts had her shot loop into the corner.
“That really was a relief because now we knew we just had to keep the ball out of our net,” Tiedje said. “They’re a really aggressive team and probably our fiercest competitor and we knew we had to come out strong and have a positive attitude.”
The Crusaders were kept at bay for the duration of the half without truly threatening to force overtime in the championship game.
Still, the hosts weren’t taking any chances.
“We tried to push the ball to the outside and make sure we use our goalie with smart passes and to make sure if it comes in our end don’t play around with it, just get it out,” Sinclair said. “It was definitely nerve-racking to the end when they get a breakaway, but we have a strong goalie and you have confidence in your teammates.”
HTA finished the FAC season with a perfect 7-0 record while allowing just three goals against.
“We really connected as a team, there was no drama between us, we’re all friends,” added Sinclair, a Grade 11 student. “We all try our hardest at practices so when it comes to games we can all work together.”
The gold medal victory was the Knights’ second in a row at the expense of the Crusaders who were two-time defending champions from 2014-15.
The FAC bronze medal match featuring the Foothills Falcons and Strathmore Spartans was postponed until Oct. 24, after press time, due to the weather.
“It’s really exciting. Last year they won the banner and all the girls were really excited because they thought this year would be a good year, too,” Tiedje said. “As a newcomer and Grade 10 we were really nervous to start the year, but it turned out really well.”
The Holy Trinity Academy Knights’ storybook season didn’t quite have the Hollywood ending.
The Cochrane Cobras scored once in each half to edge the Knights 2-0 in the gold medal game of the South Central Tier I Zone Championship Saturday at Springbank High School.
HTA advanced out of its pool with a 1-1 record. Brielle Masse notched the hat-trick in the 3-1 victory over the Foothills Falcons followed by a 4-0 loss in pool play to Cochrane.
The Knights blanked the host Springbank Phoenix 2-0 on a Masse brace to advance to the final.
Foothills finished its zone championship on a high note.
The Falcons used penalty kicks to get past the Bow Valley Bobcats 2-1 through five rounds of shooters in the fifth place match.