Sunday it was all on the line. The championship game was in our control, Team BC against Team Ontario. We hadn’t quite brought our A-Game to the National stage yet, and we were hoping that today, would be the day that it would show up with its party shoes on dangling some little bells.
The 10 a.m. start didn’t leave much time for the thick coastal fog of Victoria to lift, and a slight drizzle slipped out from the cloud cover. The grass field was on the long side and very damp and the ball was so slow to move on the field. Our team legs felt similar after two intense games during the previous two days. All the excuses of the day would be put aside, though, as we geared up to go for gold.
Ontario looked fresh and fast and came out hard, taking the game to us right up the middle of the field on a couple of occasions in the first 10 minutes. Our keeper, Wendy Hawthorne, made a few great saves, but on the third shot, they popped the ball out to the left wing which the Ontario player converted into a firecracker shot into the right top corner of the net from about 20 metres. We were down 1-0 after 10 minutes and were now back on our worn out and tired heels. The complexion of the game changed. They kept coming at us over and over, and try as we might to mount an attack, there defensive third was tough to penetrate. Team Ontario seemed to collapse as a team within the 18, and there were no holes to find a shot. Try as we might. Once we lost possession in that final third of the field, their transition up the wings was fast and furious as they wove around us, and continued to get scoring opportunities. Nancy Leard, was last man back on many occasions and kept up with their star striker as she kicked it into high gear on a number of breakaways.
Our bench was thin. We had had so many injuries, and many players were playing injured in the hopes that somehow we could mount a comeback, and as we looked down the field at the Ontario bench, they just kept rotating players in seemingly indifferent to individual difference in play. Our two excellent scoring opportunities that we had in the first half missed the net, yet we kept pressing in the hopes that more would come. We limped into half time down 2 goals and deflated, yet we came together, gave a big team hug, and knew that we could overcome this deficit if we kept pushing hard.
As time dwindled, Kathleen Michaud made a great run down the sideline to the end line and crossed a beautiful laser to the far post at head height, where Sue Hartford, who had a wonderful game, found the back of the net with her head. It was a highlight reel goal, but it would prove to be too little too late. Ontario had done a great job of shutting down our strikers, containing our midfield and working their transition game into goals up the field. We will have to wait until next season to meet them again!
Canadian National Silver Medal for the Semiahmoo Supra is a great result – four years in the making. The team can rest today.