© Katie Brickman
Sabrina Mainil of the Weyburn Eagles runs over Central goalkeeper Gillian Francis during senior girls soccer semifinal action on Thursday afternoon at Smith Field. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman
Swift Current beats Vanier in other semifinal
It was a surreal ending for the Central Cyclones at Smith Fields.
After going down a goal early to the Weyburn Eagles, the Cyclones fought back and held the Eagles to a 1-1 draw. Extra time didn’t solve anything and the two teams headed to a shootout with a spot in the league final on the line.
Megan Johnson was the first shooter for the Eagles, she missed over the bar then Leayne Young-Geiger, a Grade 9 with the Cyclones buried her shot past Maddi Epp.
After the fifth and final Weyburn shooter missed over the bar, the Cyclones started screaming and running onto the field where they jumped up and down and started shouting “Gillian, Gillian”.
Gillian Francis, the Cyclones keeper would eventually have to crawl out from under her teammates as the tears streamed down the faces of the Eagles. They completed a 2-1 upset over Weyburn in high school girls soccer on Thursday.
“This hurts a lot,” said Scott Benning, coach for the Eagles. “We didn’t make the goalie make a save in the shootout.
“We had dozens of chances in the game…we hit the bar and were very close, but we fed a lot of balls to the keeper. We didn’t have our best games, but we had chances. We just needed one touch to finish it.”
Young-Geiger was the first and only shooter to get past Epp, but it was more than enough for the Cyclones.
“I had a lot of nerves, but it felt good,” she said. “I was just trying to clear my head and keep everything out. I focused on where I wanted to shoot.”
This wasn’t the ending the Eagles were hoping for, as they finished second in the league, behind Swift Current.
“It is disappointing. We have a lot of seniors that have had fantastic careers in this league. It is disappointing that they won’t get that final crack at Swift Current in the league final, but that’s the way it goes,” stated Benning. “I don’t think it was nerves, but I don’t think we’ve had a team press us in a while. So, we scored the early goal and the girls forgot that the game was 90 minutes long.”
Throughout the season, the Eagles won the battle, winning both games, but with each game, the score got closer and this time, the Cyclones were excited to come out on top.
“We felt really proud because we knew that Weyburn is a really strong team. It just took all the girls hard efforts to come out victorious in this,” said Francis. “We just knew that we had to try our best if we wanted to go further. We put out hearts into the game.”
Sabrina Mainil got the lone goal for the Eagles and Taylor Kell scored the equalizer for Central.
The Cyclones will now turn their focus to the league final on Tuesday (4 p.m., Smith Field) against Swift Current.
Vanier 0 Swift Current 5
The Swift Current Ardens have played 54 games without a loss and are four-time defending league champions.
They will go for five next Tuesday after beating the Vanier Spirits in the other semifinal match on Thursday.
“I thought we took a while to get involved. We had the territorial advantage, but we weren’t really finishing anything. Once we started to relax a little bit, I think things started to go our way,” said Dale Perry with the Ardens. “We didn’t play a particularly good second half, it was a bit jumbled, but we had a good enough lead in the first half that we could carry over.”
The Spirits knew they were in tough against the top seeded team in the league, but they played their hardest against a tough offensive team.
“I thought they played well. We would have liked to make it a closer game, but overall, the girls put in a good, solid effort,” said Tavis Lehman, coach for Vanier. “We are proud of this accomplishment. We played well this season.”
Vanier will now focus on the 2A regional tournament held in Outlook next weekend.
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