The Central Alberta Christian High School (CACHS) Knights boys soccer team has claimed their second straight Central Alberta High School Soccer League (CAHSSL) after notching two goals in a 2-0 over the Notre Dame Cougars last Saturday.
The Knights have gone undefeated in their two championship years with only wins and ties on their record.
“Even when things weren’t going our way, we stayed in it and did our best,” Knights Captain Nicholas Vandoesburg said. “We won as a team and not individually. We knew that we couldn’t just do it ourselves. We hopped on each other’s backs and went right to the end.”
The Knights advanced to the final after handing a 3-1 defeat to their cross-town rival, the Lacombe Composite Rams.
Knights Head Coach Travis Eggink credits the win to team chemistry.
“A lot of guys that have a lot of pride in their team and want to play for each other,” he said.
“They want to play the right way and that’s what we talked about all year – not getting caught in calls going one way or another, and playing as a team.”
Eggink explained that CACHS, a school that only has 95 students, has the advantage that all of their students grew up together.
“After last year, we were like, ‘We are the small school that people think maybe got away with one. Let’s defend it and prove it’,” he said.
“Half our team has played soccer and half not so much. Teaching those guys and getting them to buy in was huge for us. I am proud of them.”
Vandoesburg added, “Everyone likes everyone – we are all close. We grew up together and the chemistry was there for us.”
Despite going undefeated, Eggink said that the league is very competitive – something he credits to the quality of instruction throughout the league.
“If you look at the trophy, there is Notre Dame, Lindsay Thurber, Lacombe Comp, Hunting Hills – all the schools are on there,” he said. “I am glad we a part of that now and the competitiveness of this league is almost 20 years strong now.
While Eggink’s players were already talking about a three-peat next year, he was a little more cautious.
“We have some good pieces for next year,” he said. “We are definitely losing a fair amount of our offence but our defence will be there. I am pretty sure the other teams want to beat us by now.”
Meanwhile, on a torrential, stormy afternoon behind the Collicutt Centre, the Lindsay Thurber Raiders and the Notre Dame Cougars girls soccer teams battled each other to a 1-1 tie in regulation time.
This meant that the CAHSSL championship would be decided in overtime.
While both teams had chances, the Cougars would capitalize after Emily Downey kicked in a rebound that came off the cross-bar and the left post.
“I didn’t think it went in at the start and then everyone started cheering and it was great,” Team Co-Captain Erin Gill said.
Downey, also a team captain, humbly added, “I just walked it into the net. Nothing too fancy.”
Coach Laurna Paetz was thrilled to see the goal, after her team battled through wet, cold conditions all afternoon.
“Oh my gosh. When it it hit the cross-bar we were like, ‘Holy crap’,” she said. “We were very happy to see that goal.”
Paetz added that the Raiders played a great game and gave credit to all the players for battling through tough soccer conditions. “It couldn’t have been a better match-up in crappy conditions. Both teams were solid all the way through and they were great opponents,” she said.
Cougars Co-Captain Lexi Kowalchuk added, “You just want to push through. It’d cold for them too so you can’t really use that as an excuse.”
Gill was pleased to see her team push through after some disappointing finishes in years past.
“It is a good way to end it. We have come in second all of the other years, so to win this year is pretty awesome,” she said.
Downey added that the team’s success can be credited back to their coaches. “We couldn’t have done it without our coaches and it is their last season this year. We are really grateful for them,” she said.