Champion Mustangs – Updated

Danielle Ruocco and Jessie Olfert talk about what it was like for the Mustangs to win the AA senior girls soccer provincial title

THE PRINCESS MARGARET MUSTANGS senior girls soccer team won the AA provincial championship at King's Park.

THE PRINCESS MARGARET MUSTANGS senior girls soccer team won the AA provincial championship at King's Park.

The Princess Margaret Mustangs rose to the top and were crowned AA senior girls soccer provincial 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 towards provincial supremacy.

“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 also scored the Lions’ second goal and finished as the tournament’s leading goal scorer with 10.

The Mustangs showed resilience, said Buckley, 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 hometown 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 the win 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 Hortons coffee.

In the game for third, the St. Thomas More Knights defeated the Islanders 1-0.