Guardians repeat as 3A provincial girls soccer champions

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald The St. Joseph Guardians hoist the Howard Birnie Trophy after winning the 3A provincial high school girls soccer title Saturday at Prime Ministers' Park.

For the second straight season, the St. Joseph Guardians are SHSAA 3A girls’ soccer champions.

The Saskatoon team completed their provincial run Saturday at Prime Ministers’ Park as they edged the Centennial Chargers of Saskatoon by a score of 1-0.

“I think the entire cohesiveness of our team and how everyone’s been able to gel over the last couple of years has been the biggest key to our success,” Guardians coach Joyce Clark said.

“During this year’s run, we got our goals from different players. We weren’t just relying on one player to find the net.”

Grade 10 striker Naleya Kobussen provided all the offence her team needed in Saturday’s final as she scored near the midway point of the second half.

“It was one of those plays where I was in the right place at the right time,” Kobussen said.

“Everyone was hitting the ball around inside the box and someone was trying to cross it. At that moment, I was able to cut in front of the defender and I got a good strike off.”

Unlike last year’s final, which the Guardians won by a score of 5-0 over the Swift Current Ardens in Estevan, Saturday’s gold medal game came down to the final whistle as the Chargers had two corner kicks and a free kick in the late stages of the second half.

“Those were some anxious moments on the bench, but our Grade 10 goalie Hayley Fernandes made a couple of big saves for us to help us get the win,” Clark said.

“Centennial was on top of us the whole time and we had to make some adjustments in order to pass the ball off. They gave us a really good match today, and their goalie (Sydney Perlinger) made some great saves to keep them in it.”

Saturday’s final was also the closest game of the weekend for the Guardians, as they shutout the Ardens 9-0 in the quarter-final Friday and followed that up with a 6-1 victory over the Regina O’Neill Titans later in the day.

Although they missed out on winning their first provincial title after capturing consecutive crowns in 2015 and 2016, Chargers head coach Kim Garner was thrilled with how her team performed.

“That was our third time playing St. Joseph this year and that was easily our best showing against them,” Garner said.

“We really gave them a run for their money and I’m so proud of how the girls played to finish off the season.”

The Guardians reached the final after a 7-0 win over the Weyburn Wolverines and a 3-2 triumph over the St. Mary Marauders Friday.