Howlin’ for gold

Cres­cent Col­le­giate Coy­otes cap­ture AAAA pro­vin­cial ball hockey cham­pi­onship

The Compass - - OPINION - BYNICHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

Cres­cent Col­le­giate girls’ ball hockey coach Bev­erly Collins praised her team for show­ing “drive, de­ter­mi­na­tion amd heart” in its AAAA girls’ ball hockey provi­cial cham­pi­onship run April 19-21 at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate in Bay Roberts.

“I told them they knew what they had to do and they went out and did it. They showed the hearts of lions,” she said.

The team, a mix­ture of young and older tal­ent, went un­de­feated in the tour­na­ment, post­ing a record of two wins, no losses and one tie in the round-robin tour­na­ment.

At cer­tain points dur­ing the tour­na­ment, the younger ath­letes leaned on the older ones for guid­ance, said Collins.

“They showed ex­pe­ri­ence and lead­er­ship dur­ing the tour­na­ment,” the coach stated.

The Cres­cent Col­le­giate girls’ ball hockey team beat the As­cen­sion Col­le­giate Astros, its Con­cep­tion Bay ri­vals in Bay Roberts, 4-3 to cap­ture the first AAAA pro­vin­cial ban­ner for the school this sea­son.

Cres­cent kicked off the tour­na­ment with a tilt against Meni­hek High School from Labrador City, with the two teams bat­tling to a 2-2 draw.

In Game 2, Cres­cent dumped the O’donel High Pa­tri­ots from Mount Pearl 3-1. Noelle Rus­sell picked up two late goals in the final 10 min­utes to break a 1-1 dead­lock. It was Rus­sell’s third goal of the game.

The ‘ Yotes opened the of­fen­sive flood gates in Game 3, thump­ing Ex­ploits Val­ley High of Grand Fall­sWind­sor by a score of 7-0.

The game was a turn­ing point, as the Cres­cent team shook off some early tour­na­ment nerves, said Collins.

Noelle Rus­sell could see her team gelling as the tour­na­ment went on.

“We didn’t re­ally have a lot of time to prac­tice be­fore provin­cials, so it took some time to get used to each other,” she said.

In its semi­fi­nal matchup, Cres­cent met the Mount Pearl Se­nior High Huskies, dou­bling them up 4-2 and set­ting up what turned out to be an epic con­fronta­tion with As­cen­sion, which had gone un­de­feated in the tour­na­ment with a per­fect four wins and no losses, in­clud­ing a semi­fi­nal vic­tory over Meni­hek.

The Astros and Coy­otes met in what one of­fi­cial de­scribed as an “in­tense game.”

Cres­cent got on the board first on a goal from Ali­cia Gil­liam. The Astros tied it up two min­utes later when Natalie Keep­ing scored.

Karissa Bard­bury scored the sec­ond goal for the Coy­otes, while Keep­ing replied for As­cen­sion with her sec­ond of the game.

Gil­lam put the Coy­otes ahead with her sec­ond of the game. Gil­liam would score again, com­plet­ing the hat trick and putting Cres­cent up 4-2 late in the con­test.

Erica Bad­cock score with just un­der three min­utes re­main­ing to shrink the gap to 4-3, set­ting up a fu­ri­ous fin­ish.

For the last two min­utes, goal­tender Claire Ne­whook and the rest of her teammates fo­cused on de­fence.

“I so was ner­vous, but I bore down at the end,” said Ne­whook. “The ball bounces so many dif­fer­ent ways in ball hockey. All it takes is one, but that didn’t hap­pen.”

The Coy­otes held off the final push of the Astros to se­cure the vic­tory.

“The final two min­utes were very in­tense,” said Collins.

“We didn’t let As­cen­sion set up and we con­cen­trated on dump­ing the ball down the court. Both teams played a great game, but we were de­ter­mined.”

The final day pre­sented a chal­lenge for the Coy­otes’ play­ers. Due to sched­ul­ing, the team had to play the cham­pi­onship game a mere half hour af­ter de­feat­ing Mount Pearl in the semi­fi­nal.

“It was a grind and by the last game we were look­ing at the clock say­ing, ‘There’s only 10 min­utes left,’” said Rus­sell.

When the final buzzer sounded, the team erupted in an ex­plo­sion of emo­tion.

“It was like a weight was lifted off our shoul­ders,” Rus­sell added.

The team had pre­vi­ously cap­tured two sil­ver medals at the pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onships (2011 and 2009).

“I c r ied. I ran over to Dana (Thorne) and I screeched,” said player Ter­ri­lynn Hoskins.

The ma­jor­ity of the play­ers on the team have been with Collins since Grade 6, some since Grade 8. To say they have a strong bond would be an un­der­state­ment. “We’re like a fam­ily,” said Rus­sell. Af­ter so many years of be­ing the brides­maids, the team de­cided this year that the out­come would be dif­fer­ent.

“We had a drive to end as cham­pi­ons, and we did it. I’m end­ing my ca­reer on a high note,” said Rus­sell with a laugh. She was kid­ding.

Mem­bers of the cham­pi­onship team are: Ne­whook, Ali­cia Gil­liam, Rus­sell, Emma Rus­sell, Dana Thorne, Karissa Brad­bury, Marissa Keat­ing, Ter­ri­lynn Hoskins, Emma Gil­bert, Kait­lyn Mayne, Melissa Crane and Heidi Jack­son.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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