Rams 4 Raiders 1
The Lacombe Rams proved you don’t have to be from a big city to play big time soccer.
The senior boys team out gunned the Lindsay Thurber Raiders 4-1 in the Central Alberta High School Soccer League finals on Saturday, bringing the school their first title since 1999, the first year of the championship tournament.
“This is definitely good for the league,” said Raiders head coach Rene Vandervlis “There’s a lot of Red Deer schools that have their name on the trophy a number of times, so when one of the other schools succeeds, it’s a victory for soccer. It shows the competitiveness of Central Alberta.”
David Lyumes scored twice for the Rams while Mike Bullert and Christu Moo each added a goal and Jacob Hamilton was solid in net.
Ayub Adan Hamud scored the lone goal for Thurber in the first two minutes of the game.
The Rams came back after that initial goal against and slowly turned the momentum back to their side and pulled away in the second half.
It was a concerted team effort led by Cody Knight, who came off the bench to shut down Humud, and Lyumes with his two goals for the Rams. But it also marked a long climb back to the top of the mountain. The Rams won the first ever boys soccer league tournament and even made it to the final game the previous three years, but finally they got over that final hurdle.
“We’ve been in the finals the previous three years but we were always runner-up, so it’s nice to finally hold that trophy,” said Rams head coach Gregg Lockhart. “We have a lot of Grade 12s and these Grade 12s have been in big games ever since they started.”
There will be a lot of turnover for next year, however, with 15 players graduating, so they will be trying to rebuild on the fly.
“I have got to really commend Lacombe minor soccer, they do a lot of work feeding us guys,” said Lockhart. “We don’t have a Grade 9-12 program, so the Grade 9s don’t hang out with us but Lacombe minor soccer does a great job of getting them ready.”
For the Raiders, their first loss of the season could not have come at a worse time, but they take solace in the improvements they made this season.
“We’ve been on the B side the last two years, so this year just to get to the A side and getting to the final probably exceeded our expectations,” said Vandervlis. “I’m proud of my guys, they had a good season and they battled hard, but hats off to Lacombe, they were the better team today.”
They have a strong group of players coming back next year that will try and build off of this season.
“We have about half our team coming back with a pretty promising Grade 10 bunch,” said Vandervlis. “The future looks pretty bright for us.”
Raiders 10 Cougars 5
The Lindsay Thurber Raiders girls ended a five year championship drought by knocking off the rival Notre Dame Cougars 10-5 on Saturday afternoon.
Shae Demale led the way with four goals for Thurber while Kiera Fujimoto had three, Teagan Shapka had two and Mikayla had one. Replying for the Cougars was Emily Downey with three goals and Lexi Murphy with the other two.
This was not just a chance to bring the league trophy back to Lindsay Thurber, this was a chance for the Raiders to even an old score.
“The last couple of years meeting Notre Dame in the final and losing to them, our girls were frustrated the last two years, so there was a bit of redemption today,” said Cougars head coach Darren Kochan. “They new they were playing a very good team, a well coached team, but today we just had the upper hand.”
Despite the score, the Cougars battled hard in this one. Trailing 5-2 in the first half they never really went away, cutting the score to 7-5 at one point before Lindsay Thurber pulled away for good late.
But it was not one of the old vets that have been through the wars with the Cougars that led the charge. That role fell to a rookie in Demale, who was the game MVP.
“She scored early and scored often,” said Kochan. “For a Grade 9 student she really showed some maturity and put the team on her shoulders and got us the championship.”
Demale is just part of a young group of players that should make the Raiders a favourite to repeat or at least challenge for the title again next year.
“It’s always important to have a young core coming in,” said Kochan. “As the Grade 12s leave us we have to have the Grade 9s come in and try to replace them and we just try to keep cycling and try to keep the team as strong as possible.”