Thunder girls return to OFSAA
The Blessed Trinity Thunder girls soccer team wasn’t content with a host team bid at next week’s Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations AAA soccer championships at Southward Community Park in Grimsby.
Blessed Trinity defeated A.N. Myer 2-0 in the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association semifinals Thursday on goals by Sandra Jazvac and Jada McLaren and then captured the SOSSA title when Kiera Flus and Jazvac scored in a 2-1 doubling of the Ancaster Royals.
“It shows how amazing our team is. We are still undefeated and it just means that we are the champions,” team captain McLaren said. “We did it and it’s not just us being the host.”
She feels the team is deserving of its record.
“This team is special because we have a connection like no other team,” the 18-year-old said. “We are all positive and we are a strong family. And it is not just on the field. It is off the field as well. Everyone is a friend, everyone gets along and that is important because a lot of times conflict on the team can affect how you play.”
Blessed Trinity coach Megan Schweitzer is a big fan of McLaren, who plays stopper for the Thunder.
“Jada is a very strong player and a fantastic leader. She is always very positive and leads with her heart. It’s great having her on the team. She is a fantastic role model for the new girls. She is also a very strong player and has zero fear when on the field.”
The Grade 12 student was on Blessed Trinity’s team that won SOSSA last year but didn’t advance out of pool play at OFSAA. That experience should help in 2023.
“We had a couple of injuries last year and a couple people not there which obviously affected us but we know this year what we have to do,” McLaren said. “Every team is a great team and is just comes down to who is the strongest mentally. I believe we have the ability to be strong mentally and we have a really good shot at it.”
This year’s squad is similar to last year’s team but there are some differences.
“We had a lot of Grade 10s last year who are now in Grade 11,” she said. “We lost a couple of players but we gained a couple back. Everyone has done their share on the team and everyone is a strong contributor.”
McLaren feels it will be an advantage to be the host at OFSAA which runs June 8-10.
“It is awesome to play in front of our fanbase and your family and friends. It is something that I am passionate about and I am sure every other girl on the team is too,” she said. “With the support of our loved ones and those in the community that are close to us, it will be a super big advantage having everyone there to cheer us on.”
Winning SOSSA Thursday was anything but easy for the Thunder.
“It was super tough in the heat. We all conserved our energy and with the help of our coaches we ended up going through,” McLaren said. “We are really strong mentally and physically and that was obviously a great thing to have.”
Thunder coach Joe Pagnotta thought his team played well against Ancaster.
“We generated quite a few chances as we typically do. Ancaster played us strong and tough.”
The Thunder led 1-0 at the half and built the lead to 2-0 before the Royals replied late in the game.
“I thought we had control of the game from start to finish,” he said. “When they scored, the game was pretty much done.”
Like McLaren, Pagnotta felt it was important to win SOSSA outright.
“When you are a competitor, you are always out to win and you can take that momentum into OFSAA,” he said. “We haven’t lost yet and our motto is ‘We can’t lose any more. ’ ”
Winning SOSSA also gives the Thunder a higher seed at OFSAA and probably an easier draw.
“It is supposed to be a better seed but I am not a firm believer in seeding as teams change from year to year,” Pagnotta said. “We won OFSAA 10 years ago as a seven seed. Sometimes it is just the luck of the draw where you fall.”
Blessed Trinity made it to OFSAA last year with a predominantly Grade 10 group of girls
“Making it to OFSAA was a bonus and it gave them that experience and made them realize how physically and mentally tough it is,” Pagnotta said.
On Friday, A.N. Myer and Ancaster will meet at 9:30 a.m. at Southward Community Park to determine the second SOSSA team going to OFSAA.