Smythe powers Bulldogs into OFSAA
Kate Smythe is off to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships yet again.
The Grade 11 student scored twice Thursday to lead the Sir Winston Bulldogs girls soccer team to a 4-0 victory over the E.L. Crossley Cyclone in the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association AA championship game.
The 16-year-old was the point guard on Churchill’s OFSAA champion girls basketball team last fall and was a bench player on the Bulldogs volleyball team that won an OFSAA bronze medal this spring.
Soccer is clearly her No. 1 sport. She is a member of the St. Catharines Roma under-19 League1 team and is always called up to play with Roma’s under-21 squad.
“It is the highest level you can play in Ontario and it is definitely a big part of my life. I dedicate all my time to it.”
She loves everything about the sport.
“I have played soccer my whole life and it runs in my family. It is something that I have always stuck with and when I am on the field I feel happier than when I am on the court. It’s less stress.”
She plays attacking midfielder for the Bulldogs with an emphasis on the attacking part.
“I would almost describe my style as exciting in a way. I like to attack a lot, I like to beat people and I love scoring. That is obviously my No. 1 goal but I put all my effort into the game. It is a team sport so I try my best for my team.”
Smythe broke her ankle in the second game of last year’s high school soccer season and the Bulldogs’ hope for an OFSAA appearance ended with a 6-5 loss in the SOSSA AAA semifinals to Blessed Trinity.
“It is really special this year that I get to move on with the team,” Smythe said. “It is a great group of girls.”
The goal for the team is OFSAA gold.
“Obviously first place is the goal but I am happy with anything,” she said. “It is a big accomplishment that we are going there at all. It is huge for Sir Winston because we haven’t been to OFSAA for girls soccer in a while.”
Churchill head coach Henry Allan is glad to have her on his team.
“She offers something different from our midfield. She likes to get the ball, turn and drive the ball. When she gets the ball, it is very hard to stop her.”
Also scoring in the win were Sam Greene and Isabella Pedler.
Churchill got a huge break at SOSSA when Zone 1 from Hamilton decided not to send a representative and didn’t tell host E.L. Crossley in the progress.
“We got lucky,” Allan said. “The team we were supposed to play didn’t show up for whatever reason so we had the whole day to rest.”
Meanwhile. E.L. Crossley’s semifinal game went to overtime and then a shootout.
“Our whole plan today was just to control the ball in the heat and make them chase us. That’s what we did,” he said.
The Bulldogs went 5-0-1 in league play before defeating Governor Simcoe in the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association Zone 4 final.
At the start of the season, Allan was confident his team could punch its ticket to OFSAA.
“I thought we definitely had the talent to get to OFSAA. I saw them at tryouts and I knew that there was a couple of girls, for sure, who would be able to carry us a little bit.”
Allan saw his squad make steady progress during the season.
“At first, the girls were a little standoffish to me as coach but then they bought into near the end to what I was saying and they did everything that I asked.”
He feels there is no secret to being successful at OFSAA.
“We just have to keep playing the way we are playing and be relaxed on the ball. I think we have the skills to make some noise.”
Allan describes his team’s style of play as calm.
“We are controlled and we like to keep the ball at our feet and move it. We don’t like to play long. We want the ball.”
Crossley head coach Derek Samaroo was pleased with his team’s play Thursday.
“Our first game we came out against Saint Francis and played really well. We played to 0-0 and went to penalty shots. They held their own and did a very good job and congratulations to the girls.”
Unfortunately the semifinal game took a lot out of the Cyclone.
“The heat took its toll on our players and they were just exhausted,” he said. “We did the best we could under the circumstances.”
Crossley went 2-3-1 in league play before defeating Centennial 2-1 in the NRHSAA Zone 3 final.
“One of the things we talked about at the beginning of the season was teamwork and grit. Throughout the season, our players have been really, really gritty and we have worked our way through some tough circumstances to get us to where we needed to be,” Samaroo said. “We started to jell and peak at the right time.”
He expects the team to be strong again next season.
“I certainly hope we can take our level up higher and higher and we can take it beyond where we were today.”