Woodward’s seven-year streak comes to an end

Derek Montague
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Team reflects on amazing championship run

Women’s Labrador Soccer Cup team, Woodward’s, won seven straight championships between 2007 and 2013. They lost the cup in the final came this year, but look poised to be contenders well into the future. The team includes; front (l-r) — Riley Winters, Rhiannon White, Keira Eavis, Nicole Blake and Brittany Coombs; back — Jennifer Hinks, Gill Wade, Charlene Duffett, Caitlin Lyall, Jamie Rose, and Vanessa White. Missing from photo: Kelly Way

For more than half a decade, people wondered what it would take to strip the Labrador Soccer Cup out of the hands of team Woodward’s. Going into the 2014 tournament, the women’s soccer team had won an unprecedented seven championships in a row, between 2007-2013.

“It feels good to accomplish so much but it definitely puts a lot of pressure on us because there are expectations,” said longtime team member Gill Wade.

Each championship year, Woodward’s kept finding ways to retain their title. Sometimes, like in 2013, the team had to pull out all the stops.

During the dramatic Lab Cup final that year, Woodward’s faced the JRV Pink Ladies, a talented squad from Labrador City.

The Pink ladies surprised many by jumping out to a 2-0 lead. But Woodward’s would battle back to tie the game. Then, in the final minute of play, Gill Wade scored on an incredible individual effort to win the championship.

“At that point (down 2-0) we thought it could have been over, but somehow we came back,” said Woodward’s veteran player Caitlin Lyall.

“We had a good conversation on the bench at halftime and it came together after that,” added teammate Jennifer Hinks.

In 2014, Woodward’s once again found themselves in the championship final. And, once again, they faced off against a very talented group from Labrador City, this time a team called Physio North.

Physio North was a new team of experienced players that was put together after Woodward’s won the Cup last year. A lot of them had played together in high school, and their experience and chemistry showed on the court.

Just like last year, Woodward’s found themselves trailing in the final game 2-0. Once again, the returning champions pushed hard for the tie. But this year belonged to Physio North, who would score one last goal in the dying seconds, and win 3-0.

Despite the disappointing, and rare, loss in the Lab Cup final, Woodward’s took the defeat with great sportsmanship and dignity.

“We’re handling (the loss) well,” said Woodward’s Vanessa White. “I think it was a really good game, and really good tournament. We played our hardest, and that’s all you can do in the end.”

When Physio North accepted the cup at the end of the game, Woodward’s displayed great class by rising up and giving their opponents a standing ovation.

Recipe for success

The incredible seven-year streak by Woodward’s was made possible by life-long friendships, hard work, and patience. The team was first formed in 2004, when most of the team had just started high school.

Core members of the team; such as Gill Wade, Jennifer Hinks, Caitlin Lyall, Vanessa White, Nicole Blake, and Brittany Coombs, have been with Woodward’s since the early days.

These players grew up together as close friends, and have played soccer together since childhood. Being able to stay together has been one of the biggest reasons for their Lab Cup success.

“It just came down to the fact that we’ve been playing together for so long and we knew what we had to do to win,” said Hinks.

“We played minor soccer together … we grew up together. And a lot of us come back to play with each other because we have that relationship.”

But every long-time Lab Cup team needs to find replacement players every once in awhile. In this regard, Woodward’s have been able to attract talented players over the years like Jamie Rose, Kelly Way Charlene Duffett, Riley Winters, Rhiannon White, and star goaltender Keira Eavis; all of who made important contributions to the 2014 cup run.

One cannot rely solely on talent, however, in order to be a contender each year. Woodward’s expects a lot of themselves, so they make sure to train hard every season.

“We like to start training around January to get a good start on our fitness and basically just to get used to playing with each other and prepare for the upcoming season,” said Wade.

But, despite all those championships, winning did come immediately for Woodward’s. Between 2004 and 2006 the ladies learned, through tough losses, what it took to be a championship team.

“We’ve done it all. We’ve been mercy-ruled lots of times … we’ve been through it all, basically, before we started winning,” said Wade.

“That’s how you become successful, you start from the bottom and go from the top.”

derek.montague@thelabradorian.ca

 

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