Bishop Mac grabs D10 title in overtime
GUELPH – The Bishop Macdonell Celtics withstood the St. James Lions on a windy Thursday afternoon to capture the District 10 high school girls’ soccer championship and nail down a berth in next week’s CWOSSA AA championship tournament.
Liz Bueckert scored the game’s lone goal with about four minutes to go in overtime to edge the Lions 1-0 while Christine Alexander recorded the shutout.
“It was very tense,” Bishop Mac forward Georgia Merriman said. “It was a really evenly-matched game and we just needed to bring out the motivation and we got it.”
Such was the force of the wind at the Gryphon Soccer Complex that corner kicks and goal kicks had to be taken in a hurry. The wind was also that strong that it was a hindrance whether you were playing into the wind or had it at your back.
“It was really difficult and it was hard to get used to at first,” Merriman said. “Definitely because of the turf, it made it run really fast. We got used to it by pretty much the middle of the first half and then we just tried to use it to our advantage.”
“It was very difficult but we actually found that when we played against the wind, it was more beneficial to us,” Bueckert said. “When you were with the wind, the ball ran so much faster, but when you were against the wind it was able to hold it and it ended up falling at our players’ feet. We were able to place the ball more effectively when we were actually against the wind.”
However, the safest option was to keep the ball as low as possible.
“You had to play it on the ground a lot,” Merriman said.
There was a single minute of play late in regulation time that saw both teams come up short on glorious scoring opportunities. In both cases, defensive plays saved the day.
St. James had finished atop the standings at the completion of the regular season with a 5-0-2 record while the Celtics were third at 3-2-2. Bishop Mac disposed of the second-place Ross Royals (4-1-2) in Tuesday’s semifinals while St. James got by the fifth-place Centre Wellington Falcons (2-3-2) in overtime.
The Celtics looked to their regular-season game with the Lions for motivation as they had suffered a 2-0 loss on their own field May 7.
“We did come into this game as the underdog, but that just gave us a little more motivation,” Bueckert said. “We just knew that we had a lot to prove.”
The title win is the first for the Celtics since 2016 when they won their fifth consecutive D10 championship.
The D10 league was a lot closer than usual with none of the teams being pushovers. That close competition each time out might prove to be helpful for the Celtics at the CWOSSA AA tournament at Brantford Tuesday and Thursday.
“We found this year that a lot of the teams had evened out and that just made the competition a little steeper,” Bueckert said.
Bishop Mac will be in a pool with Saugeen, Simcoe and the District 6/11 (Waterloo County) representative.
Pool play is set for Tuesday at Brantford’s Kiwanis Field and Mohawk Park. Bishop Mac is to play at 10:15 a.m. at Mohawks Park and at 12:45 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. at Kiwanis Field.
Top two in each of the two pools of four teams are to advance to Thursday morning’s semifinals. Championship game is set for 3:30 p.m. All of Thursday’s games are to be played at Kiwanis Field.
“I have no idea what to expect at CWOSSA, but we are shooting, obviously, to do the best that we can and potentially go to OFSAA,” Bueckert said.
The CWOSSA AA champion will get a berth in the OFSAA AA provincial championship tournament. It’s slated to be held at Belle River June 6 to 8.
Ross will be the D10 representative at the CWOSSA AAA tournament at Kitchener’s Woodside Park Tuesday and Thursday. It has the same format as the AA championship tournament. Ross is to play its pool games Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
- Guelph Sports Journal