by Randy Pascal
An early goal by Julia Jajkowska, combined with a deeply entrenched commitment to team defense and highlighted by a shutout performance from keeper Megan Coutu, was more than enough to lift the Cambrian Golden Shield women's soccer team to a 1-0 win over the Fleming Knights in the cross-over round of the OCAA playoffs last weekend.
The result means that the Cambrian women will be making a fifth straight appearance at the provincial championships, travelling to Seneca College this coming weekend. "We scored early, which was a big deal, I think, just to set the tone for the game," noted head coach Evan Phillips.
"We started well, we defended pretty well, it was a good performance, from that standpoint. As the game kind of went on, we lacked offensive creativity, but defensively, they didn't really break us down."
"We got the win, which is what matters, and we move on now," added Phillips. "That's the big takeaway from it all. Everyone is pretty ecstatic about it. It was a lot more challenging this year from what we have had in the past."
While the OCAA tournament weekend is likely to be the last hurrah for the likes of Megan Coutu, Jenelle St Jean, Morgan Melnek, Kaitlin and Kiana Houben, there is also a nice influx of new talent who Phillips hopes appreciate the moment.
"It's about taking advantage, taking it all in, because you don't know when you are going to get back," he said. "You don't gain experience for those younger players by not playing in those big games. They have to play in big games, they have to make their mistakes, they have to learn and get better."
Cambrian will face the Seneca Sting Thursday at 4:00 p.m. in quarter-final action.