Crusaders remain hot on cold day to win senior soccer title
GUELPH – The Lourdes Crusaders heated up at the right time as they completed the District 10 high school senior boys’ soccer playoffs Thursday with a 2-0 win over the Bishop Macdonell Celtics in the championship match at Bishop Mac.
“This is huge,” Lourdes’ captain Ethan Poole said. “We didn’t come into this season expecting to win the whole thing, but I think we played very well and we deserve it. We’ve really come together as a team.”
Poole scored the eventual game-winner with a well-placed free kick about 15 minutes into the game on a cold, windy day.
“We got a free kick from about 40 yards out,” Poole said. “We’ve practised a lot in training about me taking free kicks from far out and checking the keeper. I told everyone I was going to score today so it was a free kick, I took it and I scored. That’s it.
“I’ve got to score (when I tell people I’m going to score).”
Luke Creighton added the other goal on a penalty shot midway through the second half.
The Crusaders felt that their team play was spot on for the championship victory.
“We’re team players,” Poole said. “We were more of a team today. We kept it cool. It was constructive criticism.”
Goalkeeper Josh Romero earned the clean sheet and the nod as Lourdes’ top player in the game with several saves including a couple of diving stops.
“It’s really surreal,” he said of the award. “I just gave it all I’ve got today and it’s just amazing to win.”
Romero was appreciative of the early lead and felt it took a bit of the pressure off.
“It takes off a pretty amount of weight on my shoulders, but I can’t get ahead of myself, especially since it’s the first half,” he said. “In the second half after the second goal, I was getting pretty confident.”
It took the arrival of the playoffs for the Crusaders to get back on a run like the one they had at the beginning of the season when they won their first four games of the regular season, including the opener that the Orangeville Bears forfeited. However, they entered the playoffs with two losses and a tie in their final three games as they finished third behind the first-place Celtics (6-1-0) and second-place St. James Lions (5-1-1).
After scoring a 2-1 win over the sixth-place Centennial Spartans (2-4-1) in last week’s quarter-finals, the Crusaders defeated St. James 3-1 in Tuesday’s semifinals.
“It’s incredible,” Romero said of the playoff run. “There are no other words I can put it into. It’s amazing. Having all my friends and family here made it that much more special.”
It was the ninth D10 senior boys’ soccer title win for Lourdes and the first for the Crusaders since they completed a three-year grip on the championship plaque in 2012.
The game also decided D10’s representative in the CWOSSA AA championship tournament that’s to be held in the spring. Orangeville will be D10’s entry in the CWOSSA AAA tournament as the Bears were the only AAA team to reach the semifinals.
“I think we’re doing some practices in between and maybe a tournament to keep us fresh,” Poole said of the long wait for the CWOSSA tournament. “We haven’t talked about that yet. We focused on today more.”
The host Orangeville Bears claimed the championship with a 4-0 victory over the Centennial Spartans Thursday.
Kyle Hooker struck for a pair of goals for Orangeville while Andrew Paolucci and Tyler Graham also scored.
D. Bryan recorded the shutout in net for the Bears.
The win was Orangeville’s second playoff victory of the week. After getting a bye in last week’s quarter-finals, Orangeville slipped by the Guelph CVI Green Gaels 3-2 in Tuesday’s semifinals.
The victory also completed an undefeated march through the D10 season for Orangeville as they’d been a perfect 5-0-0 in the regular season.
It’s Orangeville’s first D10 junior boys’ soccer title since 2012.
The Bears advance to next week’s CWOSSA junior boys’ soccer championship tournament. It’s to be held Oct. 25 and 26 at the Gryphon Soccer Complex and the Bears are to be joined by the D4 champions and the championship-game combatants from both D6/11 and D8.
- Guelph Sports Journal