The Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Red Hawks girls field hockey soared to the regional championships but lost in a tight-game after a shootout Oct. 22.

After a run to Central Ontario Secondary School Association (COSSA) championships, the team fell to the St. Peter’s Catholic Secondary School Saints in the semi-finals 1-0.

Coach Steve Smith said the team took the game to double overtime where they managed to score, but the goal was called back. A five-player-a-side shootout followed, which did not go Haliburton’s way. “The girls carried most of the play throughout the game. Unfortunately, we couldn’t put the ball into the net,” Smith said.

The team had a successful run to make it to COSSA, winning a pair of 1-0 games to take the Kawartha Championships Oct. 15. The team had to go to two extra 7.5 minute periods versus the Crestwood Mustangs in the final. Bella Smolden scored the eventual game-winner in the first period and the team successfully held onto the lead the rest of the way.

“Nerve-wracking,” Smith said about the Kawartha championships. “If I had hair, I would have pulled it out.”

Goaltender Danaya MacDuff, who had two shutouts at Kawarthas, said her team put up a strong defence in front of her.

“They’re doing really good. They have shown so much improvement,” MacDuff said.

Emma Casey, one of two co-captains, said communication was key to the team’s success. “We did a good job with communicating with each other, which is something we’ve been working at all season,” Casey said.

The team making it back to COSSA was a return to form after they lost at Kawarthas in 2018. The last time the team won at COSSA to make it to provincials was 2016.

Smith credited the program’s success to community support.

“It has a lot to do with our community members that come and help. With former players that come and help on their reading weeks,” Smith said. “The program is strong. It will continue to be strong as long as the league continues to be a league.

“We want to compete, we want to play well and we want the girls just to represent themselves really well.”

“We’re just a very good team,” MacDuff said. “I’m proud of all of them.”

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