Highlanders stave off fiery De La Salle offence to win 1-0
Branksome Hall is experiencing new highlands in their first season in Tier 1 field hockey.
The senior girls squad hosted midtown rival De La Salle, Oct. 20, on a on a field mired with muddy pockets and in desperate need of mowing.
For Highlanders coach Colleen Ketchum, the resulting win, 1-0, was proof that their Tier 2 division title in 2010 was worth graduating to the upper tier.
“We held them off. It was very close,” she said. “It’s our first win of the season but it’s a nice win.”
With De La Salle controlling most of the play, threatening both in the first half and right to the final whistle in the second, Branksome squeaked out the win thanks to captain Claire O’Neil.
In the first half, the intrepid front liner forced a turnover at midfield, stormed down the right wing, and whacked the neon pink ball past grade 8 goalkeeper Katharyn Manarin for the first mark.
De La Salle, who also made the jump to Tier 1 this year, along with Branksome and Appleby College, has had a tougher time adjusting.
Though Oaklands coach Laura McCrae admitted her troupe controlled most of the game’s direction, they just couldn’t find the back of the net.
“We did have possession, I felt, for most of the game,” she said. “It was just unfortunate that one goal went in.”
Oaklands who picked up their play were Sarah Holman, who powered her way into Branksome territory, and defender Michelle Hudon, who thwarted Highlanders at every step.
Still, McCrae admitted much of the squad from last season had since moved on to post-secondary ventures.
“We lost a lot of our roster last year,” she said. “We have a fairly new squad, inexperienced, but this season they have stepped it up every game.
“This game we were looking forward to because we felt it was an even match with Branksome.”
The final five minutes of play had Holman besieging Highlanders netminder Sarah Beattie who kicked away several shots to maintain the shutout.
Playing well on the D for the home team were the defensive duo of Caroline Laudien and Amanda Cyr.
After their match against De La Salle, Branksome went 1-7, but would drop their Oct. 21 battle against Appleby 6-0. Then they would lose to Lakefield College School, Oct. 24, 1-0, finishing the season at 1-9.