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Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2019
St Charles and Lo-Ellen split the difference
by Randy Pascal

The Lo-Ellen Park Knights (girls) and St Charles College Cardinals (boys) entered the 2019 SDSSAA soccer playoffs as the favourites.

They exited exactly the same way.

Both teams put the final touches on undefeated seasons, on a local level, on Tuesday, racking up victories in back to back games at the James Jerome Sports Complex.

The Lo-Ellen girls, who had never captured the SDSSAA soccer banner since it was first awarded back in 1993, needed a late goal from Katie Chomiak, with her second of the game, to dispose of the St Charles College girls 2-1 in the gold medal affair.

Kasey Faught replied with the only goal of the game for SCC, the very team that the Knights had beaten in their season opener (3-1), a victory that very much set the tone for what was to come this spring.

"I remember playing St Charles last year, and we lost to them 7-0," said grade 12 veteran Ashley Prince. "We came out in our first game (this year) and we came out on top. That was a big deal for us."

In a campaign that will run only six weeks or so, from start to finish, the Knights looked to limit their priorities, strategically speaking, in preparing for their rematch with the defending league champs.

"We tried to focus on keeping possession, because we found that our earlier games, we would just kick it up, so we just focused on possession, and talking more. We also worked on fixing our defense, being a little more staggered than just a straight line. That really helped a lot."

The Cardinals would earn their revenge in the evening finale, as the SCC lads racked up a 2-0 victory of their own, blanking the Lo-Ellen Park Knights. Nick G'Nahore opened the scoring in the 21st minute, as St Charles strung together two quick passes, spotted G'Nahore around the 30 yard line, who spun quickly and fired a low shot past LOE keeper Rowan Mullin-Santone.

"I wanted to pass it, but I turned quick and just kicked it," said G'Nahore, a 18 year old who was born in Atlanta (Georgia), but first started playing soccer while in France. His world travels would bring him to Canada two years ago, as he returned to the St Charles senior boys team this year, along with a solid core of talent.

The Knights misfired on a couple of close opportunities in the opening half, with a cross from Andrew Prince redirected just wide of SCC goaltender Keenan Osawabine likely the best of the chances.

Needing a little insurance, the Cardinals were granted their wish late, with Arnaud Florien making no mistake in tight, giving St Charles their third title in the past four years, and 24th, in total, dating back to 1981.

G'Nahore suggested that the Cards definitely learned from a tough loss to Collège Notre-Dame in the 2018 final, as the reconvened for another shot at the crown this spring.

"We spent a lot of time together, so we got to know each other first, before playing together," he said. "Last year, we were kind of selfish and we let our guard down in the second half, and they got a goal."

Every bit as successful as their senior brethren, if not more, the junior Cards opened championship soccer day with a 2-0 win in their goal medal encounter with the Confederation Chargers, walking off with the SDSSAA banner for the eighth time in the past twelve years.

Josh Gascon and Braeden Madore handled the scoring for the winners, as coach Carlo Pastre and company prepare for NOSSA play on Friday. The SDSSAA Second Division crowns will be doled out in two weeks time.

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