Flyers soar in rarefied OFSAA air
It was a history-making season for the Eden Flyers girls field hockey team.
Head coach Charlotte Morrison has been coaching field hockey since 1999 and during that time there have been only three District School Board of Niagara teams which have made it to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championship.
This year’s Flyers squad came into OFSAA with a host zone berth with the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association serving as OFSAA host. Eden proceeded to raise eyebrows.
It became the first DSBN team since 1999 (or longer) to score a goal and win a game at OFSAA. By reaching the quarterfinals with a 1-1-1 record, the Flyers made it the farthest at OFSAA for a DSBN school since Morrison started teaching. Eden’s only losses in the tournament came to the silver-medalist and the fourth-place finisher. Its upset of the third-ranked AAAA team from Pickering was the talk of the tournament.
Saltfleet, the SOSSA champion, also made it to the quarter-finals.
It has been since 2004 since SOSSA last medalled at OFSAA. That year, Sherwood won gold.
“Ever since 2016 and even before that, we have been fighting back and forth with the Hamilton zone against either Saltfleet or Sherwood,” Morrison said. “We always come up a little but short against those teams.”
In past seasons, Eden might have had stronger field hockey players but the 2022 edition of the team was completely different.
“This is a team that has had to work harder and work together more than the other teams,” she said.
At the start of practices, Morrison would ask the team what they wanted to work on. The girls were quick to give their opinion on what the team needed to focus on.
“They really started taking ownership of the team this year and it really was a solid team effort,” she said. “We even had more adversity than in past seasons. West Niagara gave us a run for our money in the regular season. They got some goals on us and our girls weren’t used to getting scored on. But they battled back.”
In the zone final, Eden beat West Niagara 2-1 with the game-winner coming with eight minutes left in the game. Eden lost 5-2 to Saltfleet in the SOSSA final after giving up two early goals.
“They got a couple of goals in the last few minutes when we were really pushing for the tying goal,” Morrison said. “We hung our goalie out to dry pushing for that tying goal and it was a really, tough close game.
“Usually after those types of games, you see a lot of tears from the girls but you could tell they knew how well they played.”
Morrison didn’t tell them they had a host bid at OFSAA until the game was over.
“What they did that was so impressive is they came into OFSAA as the host zone and unranked and finished in the top eight.”
In pool play, Eden lost 5-0 to Medway, edged Pickering 1-0 and tied Dr. J.M. Denison 2-1. Eden then lost 6-1 to silver medalist Holy Cross in the quarter-finals.
Morrison first coached field hockey at Governor Simcoe before moving to Eden in 2010 and starting a field hockey program a year later. Eden qualified for OFSAA in 2016 by winning the SOSSA championship.
It is now onward and upward for the Flyers.
“We are going to try and upset Saltfleet next year even though I know their team is going to be really strong,” she said. “We are going to continue to battle with Saltlfeet but before that we have to get through our league.”
Morrison runs two teams at Eden, with one team only going to tournaments. There are about 45 girls involved in the program.
“The one tournament we were stuck in traffic for three hours getting back from Burlington and not a single girl complained. They were having fun and possibly that’s what led to the team working together better.”
There was another bussing issue that resulted in another long bus trip for the girls.
“That helped build team camaraderie and that came out on the field at OFSAA. There was no one player who won that game for us,” Morrison said.
Members of the team were Kayla Aceti, Kya Cleare, Carlie Harrison, Macy Brown, Noelle Lee, Rhylenn Price, Joanna Zhu, Keza Hiebert, Ella Brens, Cece Ventresca, Renee Engle, Elise Koop, Tessa Riediger, Kali MacDonald, Roxy Lewis, Avery Phelan, Ashton Reeves, Allie Schultz, Kassidy Johnston, Hayley Sanderson, Angela Zhang, Ella Landry, Nicola Condos, Mia Penetito and Regan Flynn.
Helping Morrison coach were Steven Thompson, Mackenzie Janzen and Keifer Janzen.