The Notre Dame Cougars broke through in a big way at the Alberta Schools Athletic Association Tier I Handball Provincials.
While it wasn’t it entirely unexpected if you ask the Cougars senior girls, the 18-17 overtime win against the Harry Ainlay Titans proved a point.
It was a dramatic win because the Cougars had already lost to the Titans this year and trailed by three at halftime. Notre Dame limited Harry Ainlay in overtime, got some key saves in extra frame from goalie Kennedy Shooter before the winner from Mattise Rensburg.
“Just the character of the girls. We were down by five at one point. Sometimes you can get downtrodden. Just have to chip away. It’s one at a time. That’s really how they approached it,” said Cougars head coach James Ward.
“When we tied them, it was a new game. Whoever has possession has control. If you win on defence, now you have the advantage… (our goalie) played amazing in the overtime. That was a game breaker.”
Notre Dame lost to the Titans earlier this year but had confidence from a 16-6-2 record and a few top finishes in tournament play.
“In Red Deer, we’re a developing program. It’s only been so many years. Harry Ainlay has another 10 years on us. Maybe a little bit of pride. When the locals, from the rural tie you up, it hurts their pride a little bit. They get mad, it’s an emotional game either way,” said Ward.
With the victory Friday, Notre Dame finished second in Pool A and will play the unbeaten Lillian Osborne Legends in the semifinal Saturday morning at the St. Joseph High School.
“We’ve played them twice before. First time we lost 16-10 and the second, we lost 17-16. By law of averages, we should get one tomorrow, which punches a ticket to the final,” Ward said.
In the other girls’ semifinal, Salisbury, who won their pool games by a combined score of 70-23, play St. Peter the Apostle.
In the second boys semifinal, Lillian Osborne will play Harry Ainlay at 1 p.m. Bishop O’Bryne will play St. Peter the Apostle in the other boys semifinal.