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UPDATE: Cochrane High girls' soccer takes home zones championship

The Cochrane High Cobras girls soccer team brought home the Tier I South-Central Zone banner after a tight gold medal game that went into overtime against Okotoks' Holy Trinity Academy (HTA) Knights at zones Oct. 23.

The Cochrane High Cobras girls soccer team brought home the Tier I South-Central Zone banner after winning 3-2 in a tight gold medal game that went into overtime against Okotoks' Holy Trinity Academy (HTA) Knights at zones Oct. 23.

Cobras head coach Carolyn McLeod said conditions could not have been worse for players in Okotoks on Saturday, playing in the cold, pouring rain, making the hard-fought win all the more sweet.

"There's probably about seven girls that were on the team in (2018) that lost to HTA in a snowstorm on the very same field," she said. "Now those girls are in Grade 12 and we didn't have a season last year, so they just came to battle. They were out there just trying not to seize up their muscles and the ball was skipping around everywhere. It was super hard for our keepers and challenging for everyone else."

Cochrane also lost to HTA at home in the 2019 zone finals.

Before they could face off against the Knights, the Cobras met the Springbank Phoenix back on the field, winning in a shoot out after they had beat them two days earlier in Airdrie.

In a fitting gold-medal final between the league's two powerhouse teams, the Cobras overcame the Phoenix 5-2 on Oct. 21 to claim the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) girls' soccer championship.

The win over their closest division rival at Monklands Park in Airdrie means the Cobras girls' soccer team achieved the four-peat, having clinched the RVSA banner in 2019, 2018, and 2017 as well. Due to COVID-19, there was no season in 2020.

After 90 minutes, McLeod said she was relieved to hear the final whistle.

“Springbank is a strong team and we knew it was going to be a tough game and a hard-fought battle,” she said. “We’re happy, obviously, to be on the winning side. For some of the senior girls, this has been a long time coming, waiting to come back here and get the win.”

Cochrane took a 4-2 lead in the first half, and managed to add one more goal to their account in the second interval. Shea White and Amy Schmidtke each scored a brace for the Cobras, while Mel Bosse added the other.

Avery Masch, a Grade 9 central midfielder on the Cobras, said she enjoyed her first season playing with the team.

“It’s always nerve-wracking playing with new girls, but they’re so fun to play with and always so welcoming,” she said. “There’s never any negative energy. We were a bit nervous coming into this game, but right away, we’re always really bubbly and ready to go, no matter what the outcome is. It was a great win today.”

For Springbank, the goals came from Maria Bird and Annika Russell in the first half.

McLeod said the Phoenix were a fitting opponent for the Cobras in the division final, as Cochrane and Springbank dominated every other team in the RVSA this season. Cochrane ended the RVSA season with a 9-0-0 record, if exhibition games are included, and scored 67 goals, while conceding just seven.

According to RVSA archives, the two schools have split the last 16 girls' soccer championships, with Cochrane winning 14 banners and Springbank claiming two.

Springbank was similarly dominant, with their only defeats in the RVSA this season coming at the hands of Cochrane. The Phoenix finished with a 7-2-0 record, scoring 78 goals and conceding 12.

McLeod said the strength of the two programs stems from the high number of club players on each team who play competitive soccer year-round.

“We’ve had some really strong teams over the last few years,” she said. “We were really sad to not have a season [last year], because we actually had an incredibly strong team. We had a number of Grade 12s who have gone on to play university soccer.

“But we have some really good 9s and 10s who are coming up. These girls are coming up through soccer programs, whether it’s in Cochrane or with Blizzard or Chinook [in Calgary]. They’re dedicated soccer players, so it’s fantastic.”

While they were disappointed to come out on the losing side, Springbank head coach Heather Magana said her players put forward a spirited effort in the championship game.

“The girls played their hearts out and gave it what they could,” she said. “We just didn’t get the touches we needed in the places we needed.”

Magana said Springbank did not field a single Grade 12 player this year, and half the team's roster was comprised of Grade 9 students. She said the team's youth bodes well for next season and beyond.

“The next few years, we’ll be a pretty strong and probably dominant team,” she said. “Cochrane has a really well-spread out team over their grades and we’ll see them again next year.”

On the adjacent field, the Bow Valley Bobcats clinched the bronze medal with a 4-0 win over the W.H. Croxford Cavaliers.

While the RVSA season is wrapped up for another year, the South Central Zone championship is set to take place in Okotoks on Oct. 22 and 23. Both Cochrane and Springbank will contest for the zones banner, against teams from Okotoks and Canmore.