TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM
Holly Lucier of the Lajeunesse Royals absorbs a kick to the face during the Windsor and Essex County Secondary School Athletic Association senior girls’ A soccer final against the Lamothe-Cadillac Falcons on Wednesday. The Royals won 3-0.
It was a quick lesson for the Lamothe-Cadillac Falcons. When it comes to championship experience, few challenge the Lajeunesse Royals and that experience was clearly on display in Wednesday’s WECSSAA girls A soccer final.
“It was kind of hard because they have plays, but we don’t have that yet,” Falcons striker Jessica Akpagnonite said. “I could see that whenever one of our girls had the ball there were three (Royals) around them. We didn’t learn that. “The way that I saw it, they were working as a team. We can use that more.”
Controlling the play for the majority of the match, the Royals claimed another title with a 3-0 win over the Falcons at Lajeunesse. “We have good chemistry,” said Royals senior midfielder Michaela DiFranco, who earned her fourth straight WECSSAA title. “We all get along, so it’s easy to pass.” The Falcons had a few chances to get on the board early by sending balls over or past the Lajeunesse defence in hopes the speedy Akpagnonite could run them down. “Every time I would get the ball, No. 9 (Kennedy Costello) would find a way to (get) me,” Akpagnonite said.
A Grade 9 student, Costello gladly took on the defensive assignment.
“Kind of in the first half, I picked her up and during the second half I was supposed to shadow her,” Costello said. “With my other (Caboto Club) team, I shadow people a lot, so I’m just used to staying with fast people.” Midway through the opening half, Lajeunesse finally opened the scoring with Lauren Hodgins putting home a loose ball in front and DiFranco pushed the lead to 2-0 at the half on a rocket from outside the box.
“We usually just play Tier 3 (competition) and they’re Tier 2,” Akpagnonite said. “So we know everybody that plays in Tier 3 because we played there last year and the year before, but we never played (Lajeunesse). Not even a friendly game.”
In part, DiCarlo credits playing in a higher tier with making Lajeunesse so dominant against A-rated opponents.
“Playing harder competition makes you better as a player,” DiCarlo said. “It shows how hard you can work and achieve playing at that high level. Coming down (a level), that skill stays and it helps us advance more.”
Erika Boismier had the lone goal in the second half to complete the scoring and Ashanti Christian and Cecilia Garatti shared the shutout in the Lajeunesse net.
“I think this one means the most to me,” the 17-year-old DiFranco said. “It’s my last year and I think we’re closer then we’ve ever been, so it’s important to me.”