The Central Alberta Fire left it all out on the field but came up short in the U18 Female Football League gold medal game.
After entering the championship game a perfect 3-0, the Fire lost to the Calgary Wildcats 31-20 on Sunday at Shouldice Field in Calgary.
Head coach Martin Rheaume said it wasn’t the result they were hoping for but he’s proud of the girls.
He also tipped his cap to the Wildcats.
“We knew they were going to be tough competitors coming into this game and that we’d have to be on top of ours,” he said.
“The girls really gave it their all. Unfortunately, there were a few mistakes… The girls were at least able to walk off the field knowing that the season as a whole was something to be very proud of.”
The Wildcats came out in the first quarter strong scoring in their two first plays.
The Fire trailed 12-0 with less than five minutes in the first quarter but they answered back scoring twice before halftime to lead 14-12.
In Central Alberta’s first offensive series in the third quarter, they scored another touchdown to make it 20-12. However, for the rest of the game, the Wildcats capitalized on the Fire’s mistakes scoring 19 unanswered points to take the victory.
“Unfortunately, there were injuries and kids getting tired by the fourth quarter. Calgary’s bench was a whole lot deeper… Not taking anything away from their strength and athletes. They have an awesome team,” he added.
During the regular season, they defeated Airdrie, Okotoks, and Calgary. They started off the season with a 32-12 win over Airdrie followed by a 37-12 victory over Okotoks. Central Alberta finished off the season with a 19-6 win over Calgary.
Rheaume explained they couldn’t be happier with how central Alberta’s only all-female football team’s inaugural campaign went this year.
“Regardless of the loss here are 16 girls from different parts of Central Alberta that have never played together before. They came together and started to really gel,” he said.
“And for an inaugural team to go all the way to the gold medal match that’s something very special.”
The Fire has girls from Red Deer, Innisfail, Stettler, Sylvan Lake, and Lacombe on the squad this year.
Next season they expect all 16 players to be back playing for the Fire and they hope to expand the team to 25 players. He explained they’ve already had interest from six girls who are considering playing.
“It’s fantastic for the girls to be able to play football but amongst girls and not having that intimidation from the boys,” he said.
“Success breeds success so having this type of season success and having the girls just love it that message spreads around and will attract more players.”
Following the end of their season, they held their awards banquet to celebrate their first year.
Etta Dryden-Brown won most outstanding offensive player and Peyton Wiggins was named most outstanding defensive player. Most improved was Oenna Bradford and the team’s most valuable player was Lily Watkinson.