The Notre Dame Cougars capped another stupendous season with yet another Central Alberta High School Soccer League girls’ crown on Saturday.
The Cougars, 7-0-0 during the regular season while outscoring opponents 74-3, blanked the Hunting Hills Lightning 4-0 in the championship match at Edgar Park.
“I had a super talented bunch of young ladies this year,” said Cougars coach Darryl Cornish, whose squad featured 13 returnees from the 2008 edition that also was undefeated from start to finish. “These players worked hard all season. Six of the girls who have been with me for three years are graduating and it’s just been fantastic seeing them be so successful.”
Kelsey Paetz, Moira Duley, Rachel Gaudry and Laura Gosselin scored for the Cougars, who got a shutout performance from keeper Alison Doll.
“We have a talented group with some real thoroughbreds,” said Gosselin, who coached the Notre Dame team to a silver medal in 2007.
“We have eight girls who play on a city team that had to cancel its game today because 11 or 12 of their players were participating in this championship tournament.
“That’s the problem that the smaller schools in our league face — they don’t have the same organized programs to draw from. We won games this season by scores that ranged from 3-1 to 22-0.”
The Cougars downed the Sylvan Lake H.J. Cody Lakers 6-3 in one semifinal, while the Lightning reached the gold-medal game with a 1-0 win over the Lindsay Thurber Raiders.
It was a clean sweep for Notre Dame as the Cougars defeated Lindsay Thurber 3-1 in the boys’ final, getting goals from Andreas Pelayo, Nick Dehod and Garret Gramlich. Haydn McLean replied for the Raiders.
The result was somewhat of a mild upset, considering the Raiders were 4-0 in regular-season play as opposed to 3-1 for the Cougars, who fell 1-0 to Thurber in their earlier meeting.
The Cougars’ secret to success on Saturday boiled down to work ethic, insisted team captain and defender Cassidy Nyman.
“We really performed well today and had a good finish,” said Nyman.
“We were missing some key players but we really pulled together as a team. The guys really worked well together all season and we had some good coaches.
“There was a feeling of confidence with our team coming into this game but we knew we’d have to work hard to get it done. As it turned out, it was a very closely played game.”
Nyman was a member of the 2008 team that did not contend for the Central Alberta championship as well as the 2007 edition of the Cougars that fell to Lindsay Thurber in the final.
“This is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here. We had some really good players this season and everyone, the players and coaches, worked so well together,” said the Cougars captain, a Grade 12 student.
“This is a pretty nice way to finish off.”
In the boys’ semifinals, Notre Dame defeated Sylvan Lake H.J. Cody 4-0 and Lindsay Thurber slipped past Hunting Hills 2-1. Sylvan Lake then edged Hunting Hills 4-3 in the third-place match.
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