U15 Girls Soccer: Clouds Have Silver Lining

CAISChamps

The fifteen Grade 8-9 girls selected for the SMUS CAIS team for the National U-15 Girls Soccer Championships arrived in Toronto on October 2 eager to get the tournament underway. The forecast for the Richmond Hill area promised lots of rain, and possibly even thunder, but the squad was excited nonetheless.

Day 1 saw SMUS open against ECS of Montreal. In a nervous start, the Blue Jags miscued a number of excellent chances, with the opening goal not scored until deep into the first half by Maggie Manson-Blair. A second marker came later in the game to ensure a solid 2-0 victory. Next up was Pickering College, a team that boasted the most dangerous offensive player in the competition. However, a stalwart defensive effort by Gwyn Kinar and Taylor Noel held her scoreless until fifteen seconds left in the match. By that time, SMUS had unleashed some strong attacks, completely dominating in a 6-1 victory.

Host Holy Trinity School provided the opposition for the final match of the day. A 5–0 SMUS win reflected accurately the difference in the two teams. Gabrielle Freer showed that her pace would be a problem for all opponents, while goalkeeper Anna Mollenhauer made a number of timely saves. The only negative to a very successful day was an injury suffered by newcomer Semele Smith. Indeed, a head injury ruled out this potent attacking force for the remainder of the tournament.

On Day 2, SMUS started in the championship pool against three other very capable schools. Mollenhauer recorded another shutout to underpin a decisive 5-0 win over Country Day School. Game two was an extremely exciting match, as a win would place the Blue Jags in the semifinals. A composed and unflappable Noel scored from a penalty shot with Freer then slotting the deciding goal in a tense 2-1 triumph over Lower Canada College of Montreal. However, the victory came at a cost, as Kinar was also sidelined with a head injury.

The final encounter of the day, against GNS, was something of an anticlimax for SMUS, with a semifinal berth already clinched and having to play back to back games after beating LCC. Despite the best efforts of Noel, Mollenhauer, Elise Lincoln, Chloe Fitzgibbon and Grace Hart, the Gryphons proved to be too strong.

The following morning, in the championship semifinal, SMUS matched up against Bishop Strachan School of Toronto. Goals from Manson-Blair and Sara Cui brought the Blue Jags to a 2-0 lead but BSS struck back to even the score. Extra time failed to break the deadlock, with the game moving to a penalty shoot out. Happily, with Mollenhauer doing her part in net, and Noel, Cui, Freer and Abby Fraser scoring from the spot, SMUS moved through to the final.

Drained physically and down to only 12 healthy bodies, the Blue Jags fought to the very end in the championship match. However, a polished GNS side was not to be denied and deserved thoroughly its 4–0 win. Nonetheless, a silver medal finish was a very fine achievement for SMUS, capping months of hard work and preparation.

VIVAT!

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