Hornets bring home provincial gold
The Stamford Hornets soccer team was golden at the recent Special Olympics Ontario School Championships in Kingston.
Stamford finished first among 16 teams competing at the event.
“As coaches, our favourite part was watching everyone work together towards a common goal. The team really showed what Stamford is all about by demonstrating its amazing character and sportsmanship during all of our games,” coach Keveshan Padachey said. “Although it was a competition, they befriended other teams and cheered for other schools that they made connections with.”
The Hornets went 4-1 in the opening stages of the tournament to book their spot in the semifinals.
“After already playing five games, the team rallied together to prepare for the semifinals. It was a neck-and-neck game that ended up in overtime and a penalty shootout,” he said. “Our amazing goalie, Devon Ryckman, made some great saves which propelled our team to win during the penalties.”
Padachey felt the penalty shootout was the highlight of the soccer tournament.
“It brought in a large crowd and it was the only one (shootout) of the entire tournament.”
The Hornets used the momentum from the shootout win to capture the championship.
“In the finals, the team played smart and as a unit to get the win over the other team. I have to say a shoutout to our unified players who really helped the athletes get into positions and put them in the right places to score,” he said. “They were so supportive and demonstrated great leadership.”
Special Olympics athletes on the squad were Augistys Sheppard-Morrison, Michael Misita, Kayla Hincks, Devon Ryckman, Bryce Stoakley and Keeghan Grindlay.
Unified players (regular education students who help with the flow of the game) on the team were Leelynd Gannon, Jason Erickson, Michael Barkshire and Zach Medford.
The Special Olympics Ontario School Championships in Kingston were the first held after a four-year absence. More than 1,000 high-school aged athletes with an intellectual disability competed in floor hockey, basketball, soccer, bocce and track and field.