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Ross Royals rule D4/10 field hockey for first time in 20 years

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH — The Ross Royals ended a District 4/10 high school girls’ field hockey title drought of 20 years Monday when they captured this year’s championship with a pair of goals late in the match.

“20 years and being a bridesmaid for many of those 20 years, it’s nice to finally have it happen,” Ross coach Cisca Campolongo said after the Royals defeated the Guelph CVI Green Gaels 2-0. “It’s well deserved on their part.”

Natassja DeZwaan scored both goals in the final eight minutes to give Ross the title win.

“They were great passes over and that made it easy for me,” DeZwaan said of her goals.

The first one came in the 52nd minute as she swept home a pass and the second one came three minutes later when she pounced on a rebound and flicked it into the net.

The championship was the first one for Ross since 1996, although they’d been to the final plenty of times since then including the last two and five times in the last 10 years.

Since the Royals won the title in 1996, the St. John’s-Kilmarnock Eagles won in seven consecutive years before leaving the league for the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association. The Centennial Spartans won it five consecutive years then the Centre Wellington Falcons of Fergus won it three years in a row before Centennial and the Bishop Macdonell Celtics alternated title wins during the last four years.

The performance by the Royals Monday assured Campolongo would be back to coach the Royals again next year.

“I wouldn’t be back if they didn’t play well,” Campolongo said. “I said that was the condition because I’m tired of showing up to finals or semifinals and not putting our best game forward. As long as they put their best game forward, I was fine. Winning was the extra, but solid game play the whole time. That was the condition, otherwise I can coach something else.”

“It feels great to win and to bring her back,” DeZwaan said.

The teams took turns attacking during the first half with the Gaels, looking for their first ever D4/10 field hockey title, pressed early before the Royals took over for a stretch and then the Gaels attacked again late in the half. Ross held the ball in GCVI territory the majority of the second half.

“Today the whole game was a solid 60 minutes of hard play,” Campolongo said. “We have lots of girls who could sub in so we just continued to sub as needed because they were ready on the bench. Then we could talk to a player and say ‘You need to do this and this and back out you go.’ We used a good chunk of our lineup which is not typical of what I’ve done in the past, because I didn’t necessarily have so much depth and so many players who could do the job. In this case lots of them could so it was easy to keep the game fast because we had lots of legs.”

Both the Royals and Gaels advance to the two-day CWOSSA championship tournament at Kitchener’s Woodside Park. Round-robin pool play is set for Wednesday with the semifinals and gold-medal match slated for Thursday.

Ross will be in Pool B with the Cameron Heights Gaels of Kitchener, second in D6/11, and Southwood Sabres of Cambridge, third in D6/11. GCVI will be in Pool A with D6/11 champion Bluevale Knights of Waterloo and D8 champion Resurrection Phoenix of Kitchener, the CWOSSA champion each of the last two years.

Wednesday, Ross is to play Cameron Heights at 10:45 a.m. and Southwood at 3:45 p.m. while GCVI is to play Bluevale at 12 noon and Resurrection at 2:30 p.m. Top two in each pool advance to Thursday’s 10 a.m. semifinals. The championship game is scheduled for 1 p.m.

The D10 teams enter the regional tournament hopeful of making it to the second day of the event. Since 1979, two teams from the D4/10 league have won the CWOSSA championship: Ross in 1987 and SJK in 2002.

“This team finally did something great that we haven’t done in 20 years so anything can happen on any given day,” Campolongo said.

This fall is becoming a championship season for the Royals as Ross had earlier won the D10 baseball and senior boys’ soccer crowns.