Crusaders soccer team caps season with an extra honour

Perry Bergson
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The Carlton Crusaders senior girl’s soccer team won a provincial high school championship in October.

Now they’ve added another trophy to the mantle after being named as the SHSAA/Milk Sportsmanship 2013/2014 banner winners from the 3A girls soccer provincials in Regina

Coach Jenn Ferguson says team building has always been a key component of her program and this year’s squad embraced it.

“The gold medal at the end is nice for sure but we don’t define the success of our season based on that,” she said, adding the team does team-building exercises out of town. “The wins and losses are important but we really spend lots of time focusing on relationships.”

Lyle McKellar, the assistant executive director of the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association (SHSAA), told students during a ceremony at Carlton on Wednesday that the honour is a prestigious one.

“This award is really what high school sports is about,” McKellar said. “… This award recognizes responsibility, respect, integrity, all of those lessons that you learn as a student athlete in the gym, on the court and on the soccer pitch.

“These are the things that really make high school athletics different than any other activity that you’re involved in.”

In total, 24 sportsmanship awards are given out each year in the various competitive levels of soccer, volleyball, basketball, curling and wrestling.

At provincials, two or three teams are selected in each category, with a winner picked by a committee of officials and organizers.

The trophy is usually handed out at the event but it was temporarily misplaced at the time in Regina.

Ferguson has coached the team for 12 years. Her 2009 team won provincials but this is her first squad to capture the sportsmanship banner.

Ferguson said when her team won in 2009, they went 20-0. She says she admired the perseverance in this team because it didn’t come as easily for them.

Prior to the provincials, they had lost three of the four tournament finals they appeared in against St. Mary.

“I know there were times during the year when the girls didn’t think we necessarily had what it took so it was really nice to see them work together,” Ferguson said.

MacKenzie MacAuley, the team’s veteran keeper, said the team was extremely close, hanging out together on and off the field.

“We started the season a little bit rough. We weren’t winning everything but halfway through we really came together as a team,” she said. “We sat down and talked about what we needed to do.”

The Crusaders were undefeated at provincials, winning the title with a victory over their cross-town rivals, the St. Mary Marauders, in a shootout after a scoreless game.

For the season, they were 16-4, with three of the four losses coming in the gold medal games.

Ferguson says the team discussed composure a lot before provincials, discussions that paid off during some nail-biting moments in Regina.

“We spent lots of time talking about sportsmanship, not just to other teams but within our own team and I think that it paid off, obviously,” Ferguson said with a chuckle. “Not only did we have a really successful season on the field, but as you can see, off the field.”

McKellar says the SHSAA tries to spread the award around the province, but this is now the fifth time a Crusaders team has been recognized.

“Each time you win it gets harder and harder to win again because we are trying to get to every school in this province if we can,” he said. “For the school to be recognized five times, it’s a pretty significant thing and it says a lot about the school.”

The award is sponsored by the Milk Marketing Board.

McKellar spoke directly to the team when discussing why they won.

“I think what it says to all of you as student-athletes is that you’re great ambassadors of your school when you were at that championship,” he told the team members.

Each of the girls received a certificate, while the team received a banner, a cooler and cartons of milk.

The roster was comprised of:

• Grade 12 students -- Kyra Ives (midfield); MacKenzie MacAuley (keeper); Janelle Hatley (defense); Amy Wilson (midfield); Aly Anderson (defense); Sara Grassick (forward).

• Grade 11 students -- Brielle LaFontaine (midfield); Madyson Burgess (forward); Rikki Wilson (forward).

• Grade 10 students -- Kalli Cowles (midfield); Christina Pfeil (forward); Shayna Ilnisky (keeper); Nicole Thorpe (defense).

• Grade 9 students -- Kalin Izsak (midfield); Emma Manson (midfield); Noel Luedtke (forward); Nicole Stocki (defense); Kennedy Burgess (Forward); Heidi Zwack (defense); Tate Morrison (defense).

The coaches were Jenn Ferguson, Alicia Cartier and Kylie Emmerson.

Organizations: Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association, SHSAA/Milk Sportsmanship 2013, Milk Marketing Board

Geographic location: Regina

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