Our amazing Angels played their hearts out to the final whistle. The loss to Mt. Doug meant LFA finished sixth at this year's AA Provincial Championship. Finishing in the top half of the championships is a reflection of how far this team has come. Resilient and hard working, this group played with the best in the Province and left it all on the pitch.
After an upset win over Collingwood, LFA found themselves top of their pool and into the Quarter Finals. Despite carrying much of the play against Brentwood, LFA couldn't find the back of the net and dropped the Thursday afternoon game. It set up their cross over game against the North Shore's Windsor team that featured some elite players. Playing the early morning game, the come-from-behind 2-1 win was as exciting as they get, which put them into the afternoon 5/6 game against Mt. Doug.
Mt. Doug presented a similar challenge to LFA from past games. They had a couple of high level players that can turn a game. Perhaps a little tired after an emotional morning game, our Angels weren't able to execute the fine details as effectively in the first quarter. Despite some lovely saves by Helena McGee '22, we were on the wrong side of three goals--which came largely from long, individual efforts by Mt. Doug's German exchange players.
LFA re-calibrated at quarter break. To the credit of every single player, LFA managed to right the ship. Our forward lines, centered by Alicia Lung '23 and Josie Strik '22, were able to contain the Mt. Doug's back line much better. It meant sickening levels of running from wingers Charlie Kan '22, Emma Luft '22, Cristina Silvestre '23, Nyah Fisher '23 and Christina Do '24. The hard work paid off, as it forced Mt. Doug into more ball movement and allowed us to force turn overs.
With the turn-overs, our midfield line, which had been so great all through Provincials began to get more possession. With Lucie-Marie Fabre '22 and Shannon Stelling '24 holding the middle of the pitch, they used the possession to really move the ball wide and up quickly. Credit to Siobhan Fisher '23, Sydney Greaves '23 and Joanna Fitch '23 for their discipline and energy to keep our attacks alive.
With a balance to the play, opportunities started to come our way. Cristina had a lovely move along the right side to spring an end line pass. Alicia had several chances at the top of the D. Charlie was able to drive strong on several occasions. But the breakthrough wouldn't quite come. And, Mt Doug was too strong to fully contain. Their counter attack was potent and Evelyn Lee '23 was simply magnificent stepping up and into the play. Our wide side defenders also marked tenaciously. Georgia Rain Shaw '24 fought through several niggly injuries (including a ball to the cheek early in the game) to deliver consistently wonderful defense. Sophia Schallig '22 and Bernice Wong '23 marked tight, fought hard and made calm simple plays to get the ball forward. It was brilliant to have Rachel Megan '22 back in the fold after some time away as her vision was consistently helpful in building our attack. That said, missed Georgia Clay '22, who couldn't play due to injury.
The second quarter was ultimately more even, and reflected in the scoreline which stayed 0-3. The second half was more LFA as we found another gear despite being down by three. We started to really assert on our movement forward. The team just wouldn't go away. Finally awarded a short corner, Jo pushed the ball up to Alicia who froze the first runner and slipped it back to Jo. Jo received under hard pressure, made a slick move, and got the ball to Lucie. It bounced, but Lucie would not give up and raced to retrieve it, firing it back towards the centre, where Shannon ripped a hard shot to the corner, which Nyah deftly tipped in.
With a surge of energy and only down by two, it felt like we were back in it. We were all attack. Players ran themselves until there was nothing left in the tank. It was fun to watch. Mt. Doug found a player loose as our surge waned due to fatigue, and she ran the ball 50 yards to return the three goal lead late in the game. And, yet, still LFA wouldn't give up. They just kept giving it everything. It was a wonderful display of athleticism and fight.
In the end, the tournament was a wonderful experience. Thanks to St. Michael's University School for hosting. The experience was a highlight of the season, where the girls played their best hockey. They can cherish having had the chance to play together and look back fondly for a lifetime on a wonderful season.
Want to watch the 5/6 final? It's available here: https://youtu.be/_TuAI0Q5S8A