Musings, observations and the occasional insight from the first national CAIS Senior Girls Soccer Tournament since 2019 – it is so good to be back!
Game scores first. We played three round-robin games Thursday and Friday, going 1-1-1, with a 4-0 win over St. Clement’s School, a 1-1 tie vs Greenwood College School, and a 1-0 loss to Havergal College. This put us in the championship bracket on Friday afternoon, where we lost our quarterfinal match vs Lower Canada College 1-0, but then finished the tournament with a 7-1 win in the Saturday morning friendly vs Rothesay Netherwood School
It took us a while to adjust to the small field in the opening game vs SCS, lots of crowding in that first half, but wingers Gloria Riddell and Player Of The Game Camryn Moore eventually DID figure out how to use the width, especially on the Play Of The Game, i.e. Camryn switches full-field to Gloria, who takes a sublime first touch, cuts between two defenders, gains the box, and sends a poi-fect low cross to LanaPeasley, who finishes clinically. Suh-Weet!...
The Long-Range Bomber Award goes to Addy Pierce, who scored not one, not two, but THREE goals this tournament (one vs St. Clement’s and two vs RNS), each of them from over 30 yards(!) away. Man oh man, from how far away will she be able to score once the Bubble Wrap comes off?
That may have been the hardest – and loudest! – I’ve ever seen a soccer ball hit someone in the stomach; it was like Camryn got punched by Mike Tyson, but to her credit, she got back up before the ref could count to ten.
The Greenwood game, i.e. falling behind 1-0 to a team we’d outplayed, was this season’s first real test of adversity. At halftime, our shoulders were slumped and our body language was terrible. But after a nice little chat, we came out hungry and positive and were immediately rewarded when EmilieLabonté converted a Camryn cross for the equalizer, the same Emilie that missed an open net in the first half. THAT is how you respond to adversity!
Led by Player Of The Game Alexa Gagne, your Spartans carried play the rest of the game, but did not manage to score. The closest? When Addy Pierce tried to score directly off the corner kick, and missed by only 12 inches, so close.
The Situation: To advance to the Championship Draw, we had to not lose to juggernaut Havergal by more than 4-0. (Havergal’s previous two games? 9-0 and 8-0 wins.). The Execution: We put on an incredible display of defensive intelligence and guts (Avah St-Pierre, Nyakah Pierre, Valerie Lin and Maddy Lippmann were SO GOOD), holding the eventual CAIS champions to a slim 1-0 win. Oh, they were NOT happy. In fact, when the final whistle blew, you would have thought WE had won the game, given the moods as the teams walked off the field.
Play Of The Game: Maddy Lippmann’s leaping save to barely deflect a perfect Havergal direct kick from sneaking in under the crossbar
But that was nothing compared to the Player Of The Game performance Maddy put on in the quarterfinal vs LCC. In one of the best goaltender games I’ve ever seen, Mady repeatedly stymied wave after wave of the Lions’ attack with sure hands, diving saves, and complete control of the 18. At one point, the LCC coach looked over at me just shaking her head, wondering if they were EVER going to get one past her
Maybe the most curious yellow card I’ve ever seen, when Valerie Lin got tripped up, toppled over backward, and earned a yellow for “falling with her cleats up.” Even stoic Valerie had a big surprised look on her face after that one. Okay, no she didn’t.
The final ‘friendly’ was a party. Led by Carolyn Berkling-Drouin’s first ever goal(!) and Player Of The Game Natalia Chenier’s hat trick, the Red & White romped despite the rain, the cold and the wind, with Nya at striker, Keshia and Jadin and Nat and Vivianne on defence, and Valerie at def mid. That kind of energetic, fun performance in those weather conditions? Impressive.
I love when we ‘slalom’ up the side of the field, making multiple one-touch wall passes. We scored 12 goals this tournament – half of them a direct result of the ‘slalom.’
Sofia Martinez’s improvement from the beginning of last season to now is noticeable. Goes to show what hard work, commitment and positivity can do.
Did I mention that those back-to-back 1-0 losses to the eventual finalists were easily the best results ANY team had against them? Havergal and LCC were head and shoulders above the field at this tourney, two of the best soccer teams I’ve ever seen. Their scores against the other teams they played were 9-0, 8-0, 4-1, 7-0, 5-0, 6-0, 6-1, and 7-0. No one else did what we did. No one came close. In fact, we can make a legitimate claim that we were the third or fourth best team at CAIS this year.
Just a phenomenal tournament. Not only the soccer, but the shared experience, the memories made. From playing cards on the bus, to sketchy Uber drivers. From Keshia’s pushups for swearing, to Jadin and Camryn’s water fight. From hanging out on the green in between games, to braiding each other’s hair. From team cheers, to team supper, to TikTok’s best version ever of “I Will Survive.” And finally, from the 13 minutes 34 seconds it took to unload the bus we had illegally filled with 2800 pounds of luggage, to the image of Vivianne trying to haul Mexico’s Largest Suitcase up the aisle of our yellow bus shuttle. With her uber-eats, of course.
Fantastic effort. You worked hard, you won with class, and you lost with honour. It was fun coaching you this weekend, and I look forward to taking what we learned this tournament and using it to bring home the two brass rings we have been working towards all season: the league bannerand the playoff trophy. Well done, Spartans