Ross Royals claim D10 soccer bragging rights

GUELPH – District 10 bragging rights mean a lot to the participants.

That was evident on a scorching Monday when the Ross Royals held off the St. James Lions for a 5-2 victory in the D10 high school girls’ soccer championship. That title was the only thing up for grabs as both teams had already secured berths in CWOSSA tournaments later in the week.

“Our school takes great pride about winning D10 and I think that’s what’s so awesome about Ross. We just really stressed that to the girls that we just focus one game at a time and our focus today was on D10 and not CWOSSA,” said Ross coach Alison Marsh.

“It still matters in Guelph,” said Ross’s McKenzie Coole.

Coole hit for a hat trick in the game while Abbi Morell scored the other two goals.

Lily Campbell and Olivia Brown hit for the goals for St. James.

Defending champion Ross had finished atop the standings at the completion of the regular season with a 6-0-1 record. St. James and the Bishop Macdonell Celtics had identical 5-2-0 records, but St. James lost their season opener to the Celtics and were placed third behind Ross and Bishop Mac.

This season was a bit of a surprise for the Royals as they were a younger squad, having a few of last year’s players move on in their schooling.

“Everyone contributed,” said Coole. “We bonded really well over the season and everything went just so well and we worked so well together. It was a really lucky year with the Grade 9s coming in.

“Our team is mostly made up of Grade 9s. It’s really surprising. They’re acting so well and under pressure, especially, they perform so well.”

And the Royals were also a little concerned about the league final.

“We didn’t want to be too confident going in because we were down three of our starter players,” Marsh said. “To pull this off, I think it just shows the depth of our team that we were able to sub everyone in and still be able to win despite not having some of the girls.”

It wasn’t an easy game, though. Ross did lead 2-0 at halftime and scored early in the second half before the Lions battled back with a pair of goals to close the gap to a single goal.

“I was worried,” Coole admitted. “When it was 3-2, I was like ‘Oh no.’ But it was OK, we pulled it out.”

“I was a little nervous, but luckily we had the water break and I told the girls that we just reset,” Marsh said. “I said ‘Start like you’re starting the half and everything’s fresh.’ They were able to do that, reset, and we got a couple more and were able to have a little space.”

The teams were given water breaks midway through each half so the players could stay hydrated on the sun-soaked field. Those breaks turned out to be key for the Royals as they scored shortly after each one.

“We’ve been good this year at starting strong and coming out with intensity and not taking a little while to get started,” Marsh said. “That’s one of the strengths of the girls, definitely.”

Ross moves on to the CWOSSA AAA tournament at Kitchener Wednesday and Thursday while St. James goes on to the AA tournament at Brantford the same two days.

The Royals will be in a pool with the Grand River Renegades of Kitchener and Owen Sound Wolves while the Lions will be in a pool with the Westside Thunder of Orangeville, Southwood Sabres of Cambridge and St. Mary’s Mustangs of Owen Sound for Wednesday’s preliminary rounds at their respective CWOSSA tournaments.

Top two in each pool grab berths in Thursday’s semifinals at both tournaments.

“We hope to do well,” Marsh said. “We play a tough first game and I’m hopeful that we’ll at least make Day 2.

“Top two in each pool get to Day 2 and hopefully that’s us because I think the girls can definitely show all of the other CWOSSA teams what we’ve got and give them a run for their money.”

“It’s going to be a lot tougher,” Coole said. “It’ll be a tough one.”

  • Guelph Sports Journal