CANMORE – A pandemic and a year apart didn't cool off the rivalry between the Canmore Wolverines and Holy Trinity Knights, which was reignited this week in the mountains.
The high school soccer girls teams, the top two squads in their mini league, duelled for the first time in nearly two years, which saw the Wolverines cut down 4-1 by the Knights in their final regular season home game at Millennium Field on Tuesday (Sept. 28).
"They’ve always been a big rival for us," said Grade 12 keeper Aili Mamalis.
"We've had other teams kind of around our level, but they've always been a really hard team to play and I think our team really stepped up to the challenge."
The Wolverines took the first bite in the grudge match when striker Anna Marino found the back of the net in the first half. The hometown team would take the lead into the second half where intensity picked up in physicality and trash-talk.
"We knew it was going to be a big, tough skilled team and I’m really excited how we came out with composure and calmness and class,” said Wolverines coach Alaric Fish. “Increasingly the game got physical toward the end and they’re a bigger team than us, but I thought all of our players stepped up to the challenge and did their best to remain calm and play with integrity."
Fish said being up at half was a huge confidence boost, but the team was unable to hold the lead.
After tying the game up, the Wolverines missed an opportunity to put a clamp on the game when first-half scorer Marino's one-timer attempt flew wide of an open net. On the very next Knights drive up field, the Okotoks team would score the game-winner. The Knights added two more for good measure in the final 10 minutes.
Mamalis was kept busy in net with the majority of action being played in the Wolverines zone. She earned the dinosaur toy post-game, which is the Wolverines player of the game trophy.
"We played pretty consistently throughout the whole thing," said Mamalis. "I think spirits dropped a little at the end once they got the two goals, but the team kept pushing, I think Holy Trinity just stepped up their passing game."
There are just four teams in the small league – Canmore, Holy Trinity, Foothills Falcons and Strathmore Spartans – and the two standout teams this season are the Wolverines, which won their first two games 7-0, and the Knights, whose record is now 3-0.
The Wolverines three game road swing started Wednesday (Sept. 29) against the Falcons, but the Outlook was unable to publish results in time for publication.
Canmore takes on the Knights Tuesday (Oct. 5) in Okotoks and then against the Spartans in Strathmore Thursday (Oct. 7).
The playoffs begin on Oct. 13.