Mustangs senior girls soccer team wins provincial championship
The Princess Margaret Mustangs rose to the top and were crowned AA senior girls soccer champions with a 3-2 victory over the Lambrick Park Lions at King's Park Saturday.
After opening the tournament with a 1-0 loss to the Smithers Gryphons, the Mustangs reeled off four straights wins to championship glory.
"It was so surreal. It was as if nothing has settled in and we didn't really realize yet at that time what we had accomplished," said Olfert, who joined her teammates in swarming goalkeeper Caitlyn Spooner to begin their championship celebration in front of more than 600 spectators and athletes who filled the sidelines and goal line. "Looking over and seeing (Co-coach John) Buckley starting to cry and realizing that this is what we have been working for since we got into high school. We knew this year was going to have to be the year to win provincials."
In the championship game, the Lion's opened the scoring on a penalty kick by Emma Entzminger, who scored the Lions' second goal and finished as the tournament's leading goal scorer with 10. The Mustangs showed resilience, said Buckely, and fought back to get two goals from game MVP Danielle Ruocco to lead 2-1 at halftime.
The Lions showed no quit and pressed hard, but the Mustangs withstood and Ruocco finished a play by Nicole Mann to bury her third of the match with 25 minutes remaining.
"When she beat the goalie, she had the open net and I just started running," said Olfert. "I was so excited. I couldn't believe that she had just walked around another person."
As good as that moment felt for the Mustangs, Olfert knew they needed to calm down to finish. The Lion's second goal was a result of a defensive error.
"They were good. They never stopped," said Olfert. "Their striker, she was phenomenal. We knew that we needed to contain her. We put good defenders on her and she couldn't get by us."
Ruocco said the Mustangs played one of their best games in the championship.
"Definitely worked together really well as a team," said Ruocco, who tied Mann for five goals in the tournament. "It's what we have been training for all season. It never really set in until I walked into the school this morning and saw the banner sitting there.
"It's my first time becoming a provincial champ," continued Ruocco. "It's the best feeling in the world."
When asked what it meant to be named tournament MVP, Olfert said, "it's such an honour."
"This team, there are so many people that could deserve that award," she said. "So many people that worked so hard all year. To be able to be recognized for the work that I have done all season. Just to be able to be a part of this team, be part of this experience was just amazing."
Buckley said it's a great feeling to win in front of home town fans, parents and colleagues.
"Very rewarding feeling but almost surreal in that it hasn’t really sunk in yet," said Buckley, who has provincial victories in volleyball hockey and soccer. "This might be the most rewarding as I have coached some of these girls for five years now and they all made an incredible commitment to a program."
Buckley also said he's happy for the school and that it was satisfying for the dedication, time and commitment the players, sponsors, parents and teachers put in to the program.
"We could not have won this title without the support from the city, PFC, sponsors, parents and the volunteer time from a lot of teachers during tough times in education right now," he said.
The Mustangs punched their ticket into the championship game after defeating the Nanaimo District Islanders 3-1 Friday afternoon. The game pitted Buckley, a University of Victoria alumni, against his former roommate, Iain Baird, a former national team player. After the win, Buckley joked that he earned the bragging rights war, which rewarded him with a Tim Horton's coffee.
In the game for third, the St. Thomas More Knights defeated the Islanders 1-0.
Taylor Corrie's winning header has the Princess Margaret Mustangs senior girls soccer team playing for a 2A provincial championship.
The Mustangs punched their ticket to the finale Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at King's Park 4 with three unanswered goals in a 3-1 win against the Nanaimo District Islanders.
After the Islanders took a 1-0 lead on a breakaway goal, but it didn't take long for the Mustangs to reply. With a few passes outside the box, Nicole Mann scored her fifth goal of the tournament. Corrie's goal, her second of the tournament, came when she sent Cheyenne Miller's double punched hand save back to the Islanders net with 20 minutes remaining in the game. Danielle Ruocco scored her second of the provincial championship in the dying minutes as she broke through a couple of Islanders defenders cutting to the net and firing a shot on goal.
After the referee blew the whistle to end the game, the Mustangs erupted onto the field in celebration of their championship berth.
Corrie said it was a great feeling to watch her header find the back of the net. She had a few other chances but wasn't able to finish.
"It's nice to get one in," she said. "We played well as a team and worked together."
Among the things that Mustangs coach John Buckley liked from his group was their possession and controlled passing.
"I'm starting to see them come back around," he said.
The Mustangs will now face the winner between Lambrick Park Lions and the St. Thomas More Knights.
"It's amazing," said Corrie on playing for the championship. "I have gone to (school) provincials before, but never on a top team. This is really cool."
Buckely said he would love to see a lot of spectators at the field to support the Mustangs.
Below, Mustangs goalkeeper Caitlyn Spooner cools off teammate Danielle Ruocco after their 3-1 win against the Islanders.
The Princess Margaret Mustangs senior girls soccer team have advanced to the semifinal round of the 2A B.C. high school provincials.
The Mustangs defeated Mark Isfeld Ice 3-1 Friday morning as Nicole Mann had a two-goal effort and Taylor Corrie opened the scoring.
Mustangs coach John Buckley said his team had "their best performance of the tournament" as they played with confidence. Buckely added his players were able to overcome the pressure to win and their efforts began with a strong start. The Mustangs first possession involved nine passes leading to a scoring chance.
Mann said the team is playing their best. She had her second two-goal performance of the tournament and said it felt good to score. She is enjoying her first provincial championship after missing last year's due to a knee injury.
"It's really good," said Mann. "The team was built for this. It's unreal."
The Mustangs have noticed the other teams play with a physical presence, something they are not used to.
"It's making us step up," said Mann.
The Mustangs started the provincial championship tournament with a 1-0 loss to the Smithers Gryphons, then rebounded with a 3-1 win against Nelson's L.V. Rogers Bombers.
At 1 p.m. they will play the Nanaimo District Islanders at King's Park.
To track the tournament, check http://aabcseniorgirlssoccerprovincials.weebly.com and follow the Western News for more coverage.