A historic win on opening weekend is an awfully nice way to start the season.
Beating the Algonquin Wolves for the first time ever in program history - and doing so in very fine fashion, one might add - was a wonderful wrap to a two-game road trip that saw the Cambrian Golden Shield women's soccer team tuck away a key six points in the bank, right off the hop.
On Saturday, the Shield controlled play for much of the game, receiving goals from Nora Dzuirban (31st minute) and Kaitlyn Pressley (46th minute) before relinquishing one in the 90th minute in recording a 2-1 win over the St Lawrence Surge in Kingston.
"We probably deserved to win that first game maybe 3-1 or 4-1," noted Cambrian head coach Evan Phillips. The encounter the next day in the nation's capital followed anything but a conventional script as the Golden Shield edged the Wolves 4-3.
"That second game was an absolute roller-coaster," suggested Phillips. "It was all over the place."
Indeed, the contest would see Algonquin bolt to a 3-0 lead by the end of the first half, with Cambrian further hampered by a key injury to veteran centerback Cassidy Burton.
"I think it was a combination of a few different things," stated Phillips. "In the first half, I got it wrong a little bit in how we set up. But at the same time, we kind of let ourselves get caught up in the moment."
"There were a bunch of things that didn't go our way and we didn't deal with it very well - and we missed a few chances."
At the break, Phillips opted to slide starting keeper Jocelyn Way, a transfer from Laurentian, up to the centerback void, with St Benedict product Emily Levesque stepping in to tend the net.
"She (Way) has not played much centerback, but she understands the back line," said Phillips. "She's physical and she gets it - but I don't think I want to make a habit of it. We just have two very, very competent keepers."
"And we made a couple of adjustments about how we wanted to press them and it started to work."
A perfect through ball from Dzuirban would allow Pressley to get the Shield on the board just as the teams broke for water. From there, the Cambrian women were relentless as stiker Grace Cranston uncovered some cracks in the Wolves defense and took full advantage.
Cranston pulled the visitors to within one in the 79th minute, drove the net hard in the 82nd minute only to see the rebound of her shot drilled home by teammate Olivia Redmond and netted the game winner two minutes later.
"That might have been the craziest game I have ever been part of," said Phillips, who praised the efforts of his entire team, singling out those players mentioned above along with rookie Hulie Occhipinti.
While he looks forward to a weekend at home as Cambrian welcomes the Centennial Colts on Saturday and Algonquin in a rematch in Sudbury on Sunday afternoon, Phillips knows the task won't be easy with a number of walking wounded and the Shield filling in slots with a large handful of rookies.
"I am extremely happy that we are at six points one weekend in," he confessed.
As for the Cambrian men, the games remained competitive though scoring was an issue as coach Jason Garforth and company dropped back to back outings to St Lawrence (3-0) and Algonquin (2-0).
The locals trailed the Wolves 1-0 until late in the game when Algonquin put it away with an insurance strike in the 89th minute. The Cambrian men are back in action with two games of their own, immediately following the Golden Shield women at the New Sudbury campus.