Defending CSHSAA champion drops season opener
Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 06:00 am
The St. Gabriel the Archangel Guardians didn’t get off to quite the start it hoped for in the Calgary Senior High School Athletic Association (CSHSAA) season, dropping its opener to the James Fowler Falcons April 4.
Although the 5-2 defeat is a setback in the school’s first-ever CSHSAA title defence season, head coach Roni Walz said her team is not worried after just one loss.
“It’s not at all time to panic,” Walz said. “I’d rather lose game one than the last game of the season.”
Starting its 2017 campaign on the road against a team moving down from the CSHSAA’s Division 2 was a tough task for the defending Division 3 champions, but Walz said her team approached the game like it does any other game – with the idea the team is different from last season and you have to deal with those differences during the game.
“It’s like that every year,” Walz said. “The teams you go up against are totally different. Their strong players can be getting one year older and stronger, or they always have new players or players leaving.”
Last season, the Guardians got off to a hot start – going undefeated in its first four games and winning three of those games. This season, the Guardians dropped its opener 5-2, starting the season off on the wrong foot.
St. Gabriel showed it was a team that knew how to win tight games last season, but that doesn’t appear to be the case this season.
Even in its opening loss to the Falcons, the Guardians fell back a couple of goals early. The team came back and brought the pressure in the later stages of the game, showing it would not give up.
“The boys are excited to defend their title,” Walz said. “We’re implementing a bit of a new system and the boys needed to figure it out still. By the end of the game, things were working very well and looked promising heading forward for the rest of the season.”
With six players graduating from last season’s championship squad, the team is much different this year, as with every team at the high school level. Walz was happy with the experience coming in from her Grade 10s this season.
“It’s interesting in a high school sports setting because you always lose a bunch of Grade 12s and gain Grade 10s, so the dynamic of the team changes every year,” Walz said. “(Six) is a tough core to lose, but we did get a lot of experience with the Grade 10s coming in. It’s more about getting the dynamic of the boys working together on the field.”
Walz expected her team would have to get accustomed to playing together with a new batch of players coming in, but has already seen new leaders emerge from her Grade 12 crop this season. For her Grade 10s, she expected some to come into the season a little nervous due to joining a team coming off of a playoff run, but she expects the nerves to settle as the season progresses.
The Guardians continued its season April 12 when it took on the Queen Elizabeth Knights (after press time).