Red Hawks hold on to playoff dreams 0
Red Hawks Chrissy Shaw, right, clears a ball during Haliburton's hosting of the wildcard playoff game against Brock High School on Friday, May 18. Haliburton cruised to a dominating 5-0 win and advanced to the sudden-death playoffs in Lindsay on Wednesday. DARREN LUM/HALIBURTON ECHO/QMI AGENCY
Call them lucky, but don't count them out.
The Red Hawks senior girls' soccer team is poised for greatness after a dominating performance in their wildcard playoff game against Brock High School.
Haliburton may have been given an unlikely playoff berth when St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School bowed out of the wildcard playoff spot due to a double booking, but they took full advantage of the situation, blowing out the visitors (who were close to 30 minutes late) 5-0 on Friday, May 18.
Despite a convincing win in their last game of the season against the Fenelon Falls Secondary School, the Red Hawks still finished in fourth place, one shy of the wildcard spot.
In the wildcard playoff game, Haliburton attacked from the outset and carried the play to the flatfooted Brock squad with just one extra player.
The Red Hawks exploited this, regularly changing three and four players at a time, keeping the tempo high with fresh legs.
From the backfield of Laura Pottier, Kate Denniston, Lily Coneybeare and Jamie Dack there was sustained pressure, working lobs into the corners, deep in the Brock end and repelling attacks with timely marking or clearing through balls.
The coaches said communication and coverage of each other has been key for this game and the season.
The Red Hawks have made sure to include their goalkeeper Jenn Woolacott as part of the defending options mix, making it easier for her to attack loose balls, getting covered on the back side by her teammates.
Everything was going well in the first half, leaving the home side with a 2 - 0 lead off the feet of Casey Pringle. She continues to develop her composure under pressure, putting defenders on the heels with her pace. Second-year senior Grace Diezel was surprised after the goalkeeper misplayed her shot taken from outside the box.
Although the second half started well, Haliburton's formidable balance and clean passes was momentarily lost, giving a sliver of hope to Brock.
All of that evaporated on one play.
The hard charging Haliburton keeper Jenn Woolacott nullified a Brock breakaway involving two players who got behind the Haliburton backfield. The stop proved timely, as the visitors were coming on and gaining momentum.
Red Hawks forward Pringle added an insurance marker, and the proverbial nail in the coffin, off of a misplayed shot taken by Bailey Walker for a 3-0 lead.
The ever-aggressive Maia O'Sullivan added a pair to give the team its win by the largest margin.
Notable play came from Megan Allore, Jessica Bishop and Shay-Lynn Hutchings, who were composed under pressure and solid on their marking and clearing efforts. Chrissy Shaw also had a solid game holding her side of the field, defensively and offensively.
The team has been improving with each successive game and appears to be peaking at the right time, outscoring their last two opponents 8-1.
However, the coaches continue to stress to their team to maintain focus and avoid bunching up.
The long weekend was challenging to keep the momentum built, but the coaches take solace in the playoff game being Wednesday instead of Tuesday.
The team will represent the North Central division and advances in the playoffs to face an undetermined team from the south region at Lindsay Collegiate Vocational Institute on Wednesday.
Coach Sharon Dibblee is not sure what team they will face and will just prepare her team to be the best can be.
"It's definitely a Cinderella story. You never know when the team comes from the south what they're going to be like because we haven't seen them and we haven't played other teams that played them. You just don't know how it's going to go," she said.