Knights’ saga turns new page

SISTERLY TEAM: Malvern goalkeeper Catharine MacKeigan, in front, said this year’s A-team had a stronger bond than in previous seasons. The OFSAA qualifying team will see 12 players graduate leaving room for B-team members to make the cut for 2011.

Malvern will see 12 players graduate

A new rivalry has been born from this year’s Tier 1 field hockey season between Malvern and Leaside.

The Lancers were the thistle in the Black and Red’s feet, beating the Beach school three times by 1-0 scores, including the South Region final and City Championship.

All shutouts proved to be bothersome for coaches Nancy O’Brien and Lesley Gage.

“In Tier 1, we just couldn’t get it together against Leaside,” Gage said, adding their Bayview and Eglinton area rivals were highly skilled.

Malvern’s A team finished the season 5-1, notching 17 goals. And with standout Catharine MacKeigan between the pipes, they only allowed one goal from opponents.

MacKeigan credited Leaside’s netminder as the source for their wins.

“We were both pretty evenly matched but for the finals it went down to penalty flicks,” she said. “We had some really good shooters but their goalie just managed to stop every single one.”

Even with the losses to Leaside, Malvern advanced to OFSAA in Ingersoll where they faired much better than their South Region opponents.

The Black Knights lost in the quarter-finals 4-0 to eventual champs Resurrection CSS of Kitchener. The Lancers didn’t make the playdowns, getting shut out in all three round robin matches.

The trip to Ingersoll had a different feel for MacKeigan from last year.

“We came to this year’s OFSAA with a lot more confidence, I felt,” she said. “We’re getting a lot better.”

Much like last year, Malvern B also made the Tier 2 City Championships after going 5-0 on the season. This time however, they lost the final 1-0 to Marc Garneau’s Cougars.

Gage said she worked hard to ensure the entire roster played all five regular season matches as well as the additional three playoff tilts.

“Almost every game, everyone played,” she said. “That’s what we try to do and they learn a lot.”

After two years of being the team to beat, a new threat has been posed to Gage with 12 of her 17 Tier 1 players graduating. That list includes centre-forward Danielle Underwood, centre-half Haley Coppins and left-half Tatum Mackey.

“I only had five graduate last year,” Gage said, adding this year’s crew was amazing both on and off the field.

Reason for that was simple:

“We played really well as a team and we got really close, too,” MacKeigan said. “It sounds corny, but we were pretty much sisters.”

Even though Gage is losing over half the team, there is a new cavalry riding in to save the day.

“I had eight great grade 9s come aboard that will be very strong in the future, I hope,” she said.

MacKeigan shared her optimism.

“We’ve got a lot of players on the Tier 2 team with a lot of skill moving up so I’m not so much scared of that but I’m going to have to pull up my socks for next year for sure,” she said. “We’re not going to have as strong of a defence next year so I’ll be getting a lot more shots.”

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