The Collingwood Cavaliers senior girls soccer team found out this year that making a little bit of history can be pretty darn hard.
The Cavaliers grabbed school bragging rights this year by becoming the first senior girls soccer team in Collingwood history to make it to the B.C. championships, topping it all off by winning silver at the provincial AA tournament held recently in Kamloops. But it wasn’t easy.
Collingwood won the North Shore AA league this year but their provincial quest took a major swerve when they lost their opening playoff game against Burnaby’s St. Thomas More. That put the Cavs into a do-or-die situation against North Vancouver’s Sutherland Sabres just to make it to provincials.
“We sort of didn’t play our best, so it was really nice to have another chance after that game,” head coach Michal Hudal said about losing to STM. “If we did lose against Sutherland in our last game, we wouldn’t want to do it in such a way where we didn’t play our best.”
It turned out that the Cavaliers needed every drop of their talent to beat Sutherland. The Sabres took a 1-0 lead and looked poised to snatch away the final provincial berth when Collingwood won a corner kick with almost no time left in the game.
“It was literally the last play of the game – I think the whistle was in the referee’s mouth to call the game,” said Hudal.
Collingwood’s Alexa Bossley swung in the cross and after a small scramble Megan Mauro found the ball and tucked it into the net. The game was headed to overtime with Collingwood flying high and Sutherland devastated by the last-second dramatics.
In overtime Collingwood carried the momentum, getting a goal from Sophia Garofalo and holding on for the win. With that they were going to provincials for the first time in team history.
“It was pretty incredible because it’s never been done,” said assistant coach Allison Mulock. It was a historic moment.”
At provincials the Cavs found themselves again fighting for their lives after losing their opening game 1-0 against Mark Isfeld Secondary from Comox.
“It wasn’t our greatest game at all and it really set us back,” said Hudal. “The girls were really disappointed.”
That loss meant that they couldn’t slip up again through the entire tournament and they would need some help to finish on top of their pool and make the semifinals. It all came together as Collingwood won their next three games, including two massive victories in one day: a tough 1-0 win over Pitt Meadows to finish first in the pool and a 2-0 victory over South Kamloops in the semifinals.
“When we won that game I don’t think the girls even celebrated because they were so exhausted,” said Hudal.
The magical run finally came to an end in the final which saw Collingwood and a very defensive-minded St. Michaels University School play to a 0-0 draw through regulation and overtime.
“It was pretty even,” said Hudal. “We had some really good chances. The keeper made a really good save on one and another one we just didn’t get a hold of very well.”
The battle for gold came down to a shootout and the Vancouver Island school grabbed the lead right off the first shot and never looked back, picking their spots well and getting good saves from their goalkeeper to take the win.
“It was bittersweet for sure,” Hudal said about scoring silver. “They were really devastated. To make it to the final and to win the B.C.’s in soccer is really hard, a different school wins it almost every year. Even when you do have that really good team there are so many things that have to come together for you to actually win that trophy. So there’s no doubt that the girls were really disappointed in not winning, but after that settled in we kept on telling the girls how really proud of them we were because of all that they accomplished this year. It was a very tough loss for all of us, but we were definitely very proud of the girls.”
That the team was able to reach new heights was a testament to the growth of the program over the last several years as well as the commitment shown by this year’s players, said Mulock.
“It was a strong group of five or six girls who were really excited about this season and they kind of brought everyone together to build that team momentum and have that spirit that we were missing,” she said. “I think leading up to this moment a lot of hard work has been put in by Mike and previous coaches. It was really nice to see that come to fruition at the end and see that all this hard work has paid off building this soccer program.”
The future looks bright as well. Grade 9 and 10 players made up more than half of this year’s squad, with only five Grade 12s ready to graduate.
“We want to keep building,” said Mulock, who will assume head coaching duties along with Ashleigh Gold next season with Hudal moving to Ontario at the end of the year. “We had a whole school behind us when we made our run. That was pretty cool to see.”