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Provincial girls soccer gold for CEC Cougars in win over Horton

The CEC Cougars celebrate after winning the NSSAF Division 1 girls soccer title Saturday.
The CEC Cougars celebrate after winning the NSSAF Division 1 girls soccer title Saturday. - Contributed
TRURO, N.S. —

Just like her aunt did 27 years ago, Leah Adams helped deliver a provincial high school girls soccer title to Cobequid Educational Centre.

Leah, a centre-back, was a one of five senior players on the CEC Cougars roster that won the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Division 1 banner last Saturday after a 3-1 victory over the host Horton Griffins in the gold-medal game.

The last time the CEC girls soccer team won a provincial high school crown was during the 1992-93 school year when Leah’s aunt, Joannne (Evans) McPhee, coached the team to the second of back-to-back championships. Joanne now lives and teaches in Hamilton, Ont.

“It was amazing,” Leah said. “My mom told me that she was messaging her the whole time and she said congrats and was glad it’s finally back (at CEC).”

Making the provincial win even more special for Leah was the fact that she also won it with her mom, Kate, who has served as an assistant coach of the team for the past three years.

“I know that she was very happy; happy tears involved too,” Leah laughed.

Saturday’s victory capped a remarkable run for the Cougars, who breezed through the Northumberland region this season with an undefeated 7-0-1 record. They defeated Dr. J.H. Gillis in the regional final to advance to a provincial quarter-final, where they blanked C.P. Allen 2-0 to book a spot in last weekend’s championship tournament.

In semifinal action on Nov. 1, CEC dismantled Riverview from Cape Breton 5-1, before upending the hometown Griffins a day later to claim the NSSAF banner.

“Once we entered the playoffs three weeks ago, we played outstanding for every single playoff game,” said Cougars coach Trevor Gordon. “Things really went our way; we had a very good playoff run.”

In the final, Heidi MacKay gave the Cougars a 1-0 first-half lead. Martha Yiridoe put CEC up 2-0 early in the second half, before the Griffins got on the board. Makenna Bowser later struck for the Cougars to restore the two-goal advantage – a lead the Cougars protected during the final 30 minutes of the contest.

“We have a very, very strong defensive line, so it’s very hard to break us down, but we kept playing the same way,” Gordon said. “They were switching some people around trying to get some success and we just made sure we played safe in the defensive end and nothing risky and made sure we cleared things out of danger, but that just matched our game plan, anyway, to be super strong defensively and look to move things forward as soon as we made the stop – to move it forward quick.”

Leah said facing the hometown team in the gold-medal game was no easy task, however, a strong contingent of CEC supporters made the trip to the Valley and made their presence known.

“The parents were really proud of us and were really excited that we were doing great and definitely pushed us to do better with their cheering.”

Gordon called the provincial victory “monumental,” and said support from the CEC athletic family has been overwhelming.

“The amount of text messages and emails from former players and staff, just anybody kind of associated with the soccer program or CEC sports program in general were so excited.

“The first day back to school (on Monday), high fives from the staff and other sports players, it was a special day at school, everybody was so pumped to congratulate you; it’s awesome.”

Boys

The CEC boys team also enjoyed a strong run and won provincial bronze last weekend in Sydney.

The Cougars defeated the Riverview Reds 3-1 in the third-place game on two goals by Deandre Paris and a single by Gabriel Tremblay.

It marked the third time the boys program won a provincial medal.

CEC lost its semifinal game, falling 5-1 to the eventual champion Citadel Phoenix on Nov. 1. Citadel shut out Halifax West 2-0 in the gold-medal match.  

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