The Haliburton Highlands Secondary School junior girls soccer team were victorious at the COSSA championship with a 1-0 underdog win May 30.
The Red Hawks competed in Belleville in the single-A division. They defeated Nicholson with a 2-1 overtime win in the semi-finals and followed that up with a 1-0 victory against the Kenner Rams to take their second-straight title.
Captain Hayley Boylan said the team maintained a positive attitude going into the finals, despite losing to Kenner twice previously this season.
“We’re a small school and I think all it comes down to is our spirit and our drive to really push ourselves that extra limit,” Boylan said.
Coach Janice Scheffee said it was an incredible day of soccer for the girls.
“The HHSS team saved their best games of the season to the very end. It was an excellent demonstration of team play from all players,” she said. “This group of girls is very competitive and they do not like to lose. They have worked extremely hard to improve their skills and field positioning all season.”
Scheffee said goaltender Courtney Semach kept the Red Hawks in the final game early with outstanding goaltending. Gillian Rosik squeaked past her defender and netted a goal before half-time.
“Heading into the second half and up by a goal, the Red Hawks started to play an even tighter defensive game, keeping Kenner to the outside,” Scheffee said. “Using all the energy they had, HHSS controlled the ball in the final few minutes and earned themselves a second-straight COSSA gold medal.”
Boylan said the group fought through injuries to win the championship. She herself played on an injured knee through the back half of the final game.
“It was painful, but it would have been even more painful if we had let them score a goal to tie it up,” she said.
Semach earned player of the game honours for her outstanding goaltending, Scheffee said.
With the season behind them, Boylan and other second-year players will move on to compete at the senior level after earning back-to-back titles.
But the juniors will have nine players able to return next year.
“They will be missed,” Scheffee said. “The junior soccer program continues to look promising at HHSS.”
Boylan said this win will be a big confidence booster for the juniors next year.
“This win will really help the first-year juniors be really able to develop their team next year,” she said. “They’ve seen and experienced what they need to do to accomplish that again.”