Halifax women take gold at CAF Soccer Nationals
By Ryan Melanson,
The CFB Halifax Mariners’ women’s soccer team have put the finishing touch on a strong 2018 season, bringing home gold medals from the CAF National Soccer Championship.
The tournament was held from September 8-13 at CFB Borden, with four teams representing the Atlantic (Halifax), West (Edmonton), Ontario (Borden) and Quebec (Valcartier) regions. The Mariners took on CFB Edmonton in the final game, winning the national trophy with a commanding 5-0 victory. Halifax only recorded one loss through the week, falling 4-3 to Valcartier in their opening game, followed by two round-robin wins and one semi final match to earn their way to the championship game.
While the score for the final game suggests a blowout, Halifax team captain Capt Kim O’Rourke credited the women from CFB Edmonton for playing hard through a tiring schedule, and said a match between the two teams earlier in the week, that ended with 1-0 Halifax victory, better reflected the skill levels between them.
“They really were a strong team, centrally and defensively. It was hard to find the back of the net against them,” she said.
After the gold-medal win at regionals earlier this summer, the Halifax team picked up a number of extra players, some with CISM experience, who were unable to compete at the regional tournament for various reasons, along with three top players from Gagetown. The result was a highly-skilled team that needed time to gel as a unit.
“We built on our cohesion as a team on the field as the tournament progressed, which was very important after arriving at nationals with a new team. It all came together in the end,” Capt O’Rourke said, adding that goalie LS Caroline Larocque deserved special credit for her performance through the week and for a key penalty-kill save in the semi finals.
Other top contributors for the Mariners included Capt O’Rourke herself, who was awarded the title of tournament MVP, as well as Lt(N) Sonya Allison, Cpl Jo Blodgett, a reservist and former CISM team captain who took a break from studies in the UK to play for Halifax, and Gagetown pickups 2Lt Alex Schoffeld and Cpl Anouk Trottier-Boucher.
The team wished to thank their coach, Cpl Steve Cummings, who works in Greenwood but stepped up to support the Mariners women’s team at both regionals and nationals, as well as their respective chains of command, who made it possible for players to take time away from regular duties for the tournament.
On the men’s side, the Mariners ended the round robin portion as the third place team before being eliminated by the eventual champions from Valcartier in a 3-3 semi final match that was lost on penalty kicks. Earlier in the week, the team played to a 2-0 victory against Kingston, a 0-0 tie against Valcartier, and a 0-3 loss against Edmonton. Game MVPs for the Halifax men included MCpl Ryan Pittman, LS David Bitton, and LCdr Dave Marshall.