The Lake Lenore Lancers have some shiny gold hardware around their necks after winning Provincials over the weekend.
The Lake Lenore Lancers hosted the 2010 Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association (SHSAA) 1A boys' Provincial soccer championships October 29-30. The first game of the two-day event saw the Lancers take on their long-standing rivals, Valley Christian Academy from Osler.
Osler is the current provincial champion and defeated the Lancers earlier in the season at a tournament, explained Lake Lenore coach Curtis Strueby.
The game started out fast and furious, with the players quickly finding out that the recent snow had left the field very slippery.
The Lancer scored first, when Tyler Davis beat Osler to the ball and took it in close and shot one over and to the left of the keeper.
Lake Lenore increased their lead to two on a corner kick. The Osler keeper got his hands on the ball, but it squirted free and into the net.
That was the only scoring in the first half, although both teams had chances.
The second half started out quite differently as Osler came out strong and hard. They scored their first goal of the game within the first five minutes of the half on a corner kick. Lancer keeper Cole Bauml was unable to hold onto the ball and Osler managed to tuck it into the back of the net.
Within the next 10 minutes, Osler had tied the game at two with a long, low shot past a diving Bauml.
With the game tied at two, the Lancers seemed to pick up the pace again.
They regained their lead on another corner kick, when, once again, the ball squirted free of the Osler keeper's hands and a Lancer standing just behind him put it home.
Then Lancer Michael Foy got his second goal of the game. The Osler keeper came way out of his net to challenge Foy on a race for the ball, the ball went up, bounced several times and then Foy headed it into the net.
With a 4-2 lead, the Lancers closed into a hard defensive shell, giving Osler very few chances in the last 15 minutes. Lake Lenore won the game and headed to the gold medal game against Chief Poundmaker/Chief Little Pine from Payton, while Osler head to the bronze medal match against Regina Western Christian.
The bronze medal match was a close game with Osler coming out on top of a 4-3 score.
The gold medal match between the Lancers and Poundmaker was another nailbiter, with the teams fighting for the win up until the last few minutes of the game.
The Lancers pushed hard in the first half, forcing their opponents into a couple of mistakes that resulted in penalty kicks. Lake Lenore scored on both penalty kicks, taking a 2-0 lead.
Chief Poundmaker came back hard and drew within one point before the whistle sounded to end the half.
With a 2-1 lead in the second half, the Lancers split their time between playing very defensively and taking wild offensive chances.
Both teams had opportunities to score but Lancer keeper Cole Bauml and Poundmaker keeper Darryl Pederson made some big saves.
The Lancers sealed their victory with a corner kick around the 25-minute mark of the second half. A Poundmaker player headed the ball away from the net on the initial kick, but a Lancer got the rebound, controlled the ball and put it past the keeper to give the Lancers a 3-1 lead. Poundmaker kept pressing in the remaining time, but the Lancer defence and keeper kept the ball out of the net.
Bret Banach had two of the Lancer goals, while Mitchel Gerwing scored the other.
When the final whistle blew, the Lancers had a 3-1 victory to claim the gold medal, their fourth in six years and their sixth medal in those same six years.
"It's been two years since we won gold, and it feels good," said Strueby after the game. "The score was 3-1, but we really dominated the second half. Our defense played phenomenal."
The Lancers only made one mistake in the first half and it cost them a goal, but they didn't make any mistakes in the second half, he stated.
"This is the best we've played all year," Strueby said. "We had something to prove (after losing at Regionals). We didn't earn our way here, but we proved we're the best."
One group of students received special notice from their coach.
"I would like to congratualte our Grade 12 boys," he said. "They really played well all year long and it's been a pretty special run with them, as together we have won two gold, a silver, and a bronze."
Strueby also thanked the parents, students, and staff from Lake Lenore School who worked hard to help organize and host the event.
"Our parent support in Lake Lenore for hosting events is truly second to none, and we proved it once again," he said. "Also, thank you to the officials who were excellecnt all weekend, and Larry Bedel with the SHSAA.
"The championship was a huge success and we received many compliments from the visiting teams and their fans."