By Darren Lum
Published Oct. 24 2017
Two quick goals in the first half was all that the Red Hawks varsity field hockey team needed to secure their second win of the Kawartha High School Field Hockey League’s six-game regular season.
Good timing for the Hawks who head into playoffs in third place with a 2-0-4 record as a result of the 2-1 victory on Tuesday Oct. 17 in Haliburton against the league’s top team the St. Peter Catholic Secondary School Saints.
Coach Steve Smith commended his players on their efforts in this game and congratulated them on their consistency to compete all season.
“You’re in every game. The whole season long” he said. “They’ve been in every game. All they had to do was score. They finally found the back of the net [where it hits the board and makes a bang] and that’s what I said to the them: Do you like that sound? They said ‘yeah.’ That’s what you have to do.”
The team’s biggest loss of the season came against Crestwood Secondary School who won 2-nil. Other than that the team only lost by a goal.
Against the Saints the Hawks took advantage of their first offensive opportunity a set play in the opening minutes of the game. From a short-corner taken by the Hawks’ (usual stalwart defender) Emily Klose who joined the offence on the play to send in the ball from out-of-bounds and then got the ball and passed to her teammate Abby Gordon. Gordon took the pass cleanly in-close to the keeper and finished with a low shot for the opening game’s goal 1-nil.
A few minutes later the Hawks struck again for an important insurance goal by Hawks rookie player Brittany Bain who bolstered what Smith has been telling his team which is to shoot at the net more.
“Shoot. Shoot the ball. You just never know. It was her first goal” he said referring to the Grade 9 athlete Bain.
Bain’s goal came from one the Saints goalie had a strong chance at stopping and would’ve most likely wanted another chance as the soft roller along the ground eluded her errant kick attempt.
The Hawks goalkeeper tandem of Danaya MacDuff and Denniella Rivard shared the duties at the back end taking one half each. They were solid in net for the red and white.
Unlike recent years when the Hawks have finished first (often with undefeated records) this team is rebuilding. Smith has appreciated the progress of the team this season with more than 50 per cent of the roster in their first year playing field hockey. In discussion with his players he expects up to seven Grade 9s on the roster to continue next year with the team.
He wasn’t concerned about wins and losses and how it was related to seeding.
“The season on a whole is a development for our team. They’re now seeing the fruition of what we’ve done so second versus third I’m OK [with that]” he said. “We’re in every game so it doesn’t really matter which of the teams that we play” he said.
Even with a less than .500 winning percentage the team was only one win from second place Crestwood Secondary School. The Hurricanes of Holy Cross rounded out the top four teams.
Smith doesn’t see the record as an indication of lack of success. In fact he thinks a bounce here or there and the team could have been at the top of the standings. The most important aspect of this season was to be able to give his players an opportunity for success.
The Saints came into the game short players so Smith said he would rotate players in and out for shifts far shorter than usual.
“I have the bodies so I said we’re going to run … run run run and they did really really well. They’ve been working on fundamentals and it has been paying off” he said referring to passing and the execution of set plays such as short-corners and long-corners.
In the second half Gordon slipped on the field and tweaked her ankle forcing her to limp off the field and miss the rest of the game. Smith said the Hawks were fully capable of stepping up for her injured veteran.
“I’m pretty blessed with the talent that I have on the team and if one goes down we just put in another one. We’ve got bodies. There are a lot of rookies. They will be really really good like next year and the year after. We’re just fine tuning stuff right now” he said.
The top three from Kawartha will move on to play in COSSA which is Tuesday Oct. 24.
Note: the results for the Kawartha Championship playoffs came after this story.
After losing two regular season games (2-0 and 1-0) to the Crestwood Secondary School Mustangs Haliburton got their revenge when it mattered coming through with a 1-0 win in overtime to earn a spot in the Kawartha Championship final on Friday Oct. 20 at Fleming College in Peterborugh.
However the Hawks were in tough during the final against the Saints of St. Peters Catholic Secondary School. With just 30 minutes between their first and second game the Hawks were outscored 5-2 and enter the COSSA Championship as the second seed.
“All the girls played and played extremely well” he wrote in a message.
The team will play in the COSSA today at Fleming College in Peterborough in hopes of advancing to the all-provincials.