The Huntsville High School varsity girls soccer team consisted of an incredibly talented group of girls who brought a lot of strengths to form this year’s team, said their coach, John Cowan.
Because surrounding schools were unable to field both a Junior and Senior girls team this season, the MPS athletic directors made a decision to limit this year to varsity programs. The HHS 2019 team included girls from grade 9 through to grade 12, and with 32 interested players it was difficult to condense the team into a varsity roster of just 22 players. “This was really too bad for development in maintaining a cohort of players over four years,” said Cowan.
Cowan commended the senior level players. “The seniors on this varsity team were welcoming and encouraging the younger athletes,” said Cowan. “From a coaching perspective, the physical or technical skill development component was less required as much as the team strategy as many of these players have not played together as they are from different age groupings. Both age groups were keen to work together and learn.”
The Hoyas started off their season strong, winning games and proving they could work well together as a new team.
At the annual Nipissing Invitational Soccer Tournament, Huntsville competed against teams from northern communities such as Timmins, North Bay, Sudbury and New Liskeard and maintained their reputation for excellence and sportsmanship. “This tournament is where the team really came together and continued with their shut out performance and increasing the goals for the team,” Cowan said.
In the regular season games against other varsity teams, Bracebridge/Muskoka Lakes Secondary School in particular was a challenging opponent and the team Huntsville would eventually meet for the MPS championship. The Hoyas re-organized and reflected on their game play to create a new team strategy heading into the championship and a goal to take the win.
“The team was able to keep BMLSS from scoring although they had some great efforts on the net. The Hoyas keeper made some stunning saves to keep the ball out of the net,” said Cowan. Huntsville brought home the MPS championship with a 1-0 win.
In the GBSSA final, Huntsville faced Holy Trinity HS from Bradford for a strong battle. To keep them focused on the game ahead, the Hoyas weren’t told about their opponents’ undefeated season, nor the games they won by high scores like 12-0 or 8-0.
Cowan said that the Holy Trinity Tigers by the Hoyas’ quick start, as well as the team’s defensive skills that shut down many of the attacks on the Huntsville net. The Holy Trinity coach shared with Cowan that he was impressed by the abilities of Hoyas keeper, Dakota Fraser, and that Huntsville presented their teams’ best challenge of the season.
“Dakota was a huge factor in keeping the score at 3-0 for Holy Trinity,” said Cowan. “Although Huntsville had chances on Holy Trinity’s net, the shots were stopped by their keeper. This team was the best team that Huntsville had seen all season.”
Overall, the Hoyas girls varsity team had a great season as a new team.
“This year was an amazing group of athletes who worked well under the leadership of the captains Celeste Dupuis and Sophie Small and senior graduating players Anj Jindal, Riley Giles, Paige Smith, Kaitlyn Israelstam and Megan Johnstone,” said Cowan. “This group of graduating girls along with Maggie Pitts will be known as the first group of girls to compete at OFSAA Girls soccer last year for Huntsville High School. It has been a pleasure to coach and see them inspire the next generation of athletes.”
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