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.

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - JIM PARKER jp­parker@post­media.com twit­ter.com/win­starparker

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.”

DAN JANISSE

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