Despite ending their season on a losing note with a 3-0 defeat to the Regina O’Neill Titans in the bronze medal game at Prime Ministers’ Park Saturday, a fourth place finish for the St. Mary Marauders at the SHSAA 3A girls’ soccer championship thrilled head coach Jamie Zurakowski.
“We went further than we ever expected coming into this weekend,” Zurakowski said Saturday.
“The bronze medal would have been an amazing accomplishment, but to be in the top four is something that we’re very happy with.”
On their way to reaching the medal round for the first time since a fourth place result at the 2015 tournament in Swift Current, the Marauders prevailed in a dramatic 4-3 affair with the Campbell Tartans of Regina in Friday’s quarter-final.
After both sides traded goals and were unable to break the tie in extra time, the match went to a shootout that the Marauders won 4-1.
“It’s always stressful when you get in that situation as you want to make sure you have the right players on the field when the penalty kicks begin,” Zurakowski said.
“For us to get goals from all four of our shooters and to get some big saves from our Grade 9 goalkeeper MacKenna Schrader was really satisfying.”
Anna Puentespun, Emily Lafreniere and Jasmine Saskamoose scored for the Marauders in regulation, while Olivia Gables has a hat trick for the Tartans.
The Marauders would then go up against the eventual silver medalist Centennial Chargers in the semifinal Friday, which the Saskatoon based side won by a score of 3-2.
“Centennial is known for being a soccer school, so for our younger team to keep it close with them was a truly exceptional result,” Zurakoswki said.
The complete scoring details from that contest were not available.
M.C. Perez, Isabella Salazar and Kylee Stewart all found the back of the net in the bronze medal game for the Titans, who surpassed their most recent best showing of fourth place at the 2016 3A tournament in Prince Albert.
“We’ve been here the last four years with this group so it was nice to see the graduating players win a medal today,” Titans coach Tammy Gartner said.
“The girls played really well as a team all weekend and it was an exciting finish to the year for us.”
As they look towards next season, the Marauders will be losing five players from their lineup as Lauren Ostrowski, Chanisse Dinney, Chloe Green, Chelsey Mitchell and Rachel Ostrowski all age out of the high school ranks.
“There were no Grade 11 players on our team this year so everyone that’s coming back is currently in Grades 9 and 10,” Zurakowski said.
“We hope that they take a lot away from this experience, but they are already playing the right way. All you have to do is look at how they played in the bronze medal game, as they never quit.”
Tough finish for Crusaders
Although they have been a perennial contender at 3A tournaments in recent years, this weekend proved to be a challenging one for the host Carlton Crusaders.
They were shutout 3-0 by the Titans Friday morning in the quarter-final round and were then eliminated from the event after a 4-1 loss to the Swift Current Ardens in the consolation round later in the day.
“We had a few players missing and a few players injured, so everything kind of caught up to us all at once this weekend,” Crusaders head coach Alicia Georgeson said.
“With that said, it was a real honour to be the hosts and it was a great experience for our team. We had a bit of a younger lineup this time around and I think you’ll see our returning players take big steps forward next year.”
Only four players (Hallie Odnokon, Natasha Luedtke, Alex Short and Kimberela Pfeil) are graduating from this year’s Crusaders lineup.