Saints Xl: A Golden Start

On September 16th-17th, the First XI soccer team competed in the annual Independent School Association (ISA) soccer tournament. The tournament was located in Victoria and was hosted by St. Michael’s University School (SMUS). There were eight teams in total, with two divisions of four. One division contained the teams: West Point Grey Academy, Collingwood, St. John’s, and Glenlyon Norfolk School (GNS). The other division was comprised of: Brentwood, SMUS, Southridge, and St. George’s.

Saints entered the tournament as a new team that had yet been able to build chemistry. They started the tournament with their first game against Southridge. Throughout the first half, both teams were locked at a stalemate with the Southridge goalie making multiple great saves. Early in the second half, Alex Mackay (11) hit a well struck shot through the goal keeper’s hands to put St. George’s ahead 1-0. Saints continued to dominate the second half with Anton Horr (11) scoring a tap-in goal putting the game out of reach. The final score ended up 2-0 for Saints.

Up next for Saints was one of the top teams, St. Michael’s University (SMUS). Early in the game, SMUS put the pressure on Saints with many shots on net. However, Saints took advantage of some poor defending and got themselves on the board with a great finish by Thomas Kirkwood (10). The game went scoreless until late in the second half when a SMUS defender scored from half making the score even. Just when Saints was preparing for a shootout, Jamie Catliff (12) played a through ball to Sean Letvinchuk (12) who slotted it in the bottom right corner. With seconds to play, SMUS scored a heartbreaking goal to force the game to a shootout in which SMUS came out victorious.

Heading into the third game against Brentwood, Saints knew it was a must win. The game was even for the first 20 minutes until Thomas Kirkwwood (10) scored the first goal of the game on a juicy rebound. The rest of the game consisted of both teams having numerous scoring chances but with 5 minutes left, Brentwood was awarded a penalty shot; however, Fin Kelly (12) made an outstanding diving save to maintain the lead.  Saints was able to hold on to the victory, giving them a final round robin record of 2-0-1.

To make the finals, things were not looking great for Saints as they needed Southridge to upset SMUS. Although SMUS outplayed Southridge for the majority of the game, Southridge was able to force a tie due to great defending and goaltending. The result of SMUS tying meant that Saints would play GNS in the finals.

GNS had won the tournament the past couple years, so Saints knew this was going to be a tough matchup. The game started fast paced with both teams moving the ball excellently. About 15 minutes into the game, Jamie Catliiff (12) scored the first goal of the game on a chip shot. After this goal, Saints used this momentum to dominate the rest of the game. GNS had only a few shots, while Saints had the majority of possession and shots. In the middle of the second half Will Andrews (12) and Nolan Lee (12) both scored goals to secure the win. The final score ended 3-0 for Saints, and for the first time in 5 years, the St. George’s First XI soccer team were the ISA champions.

Here is a quote from Nick Varabioff (12) on his experience at the ISA’s: “This was the best start to the season possible. Winning a tournament that hasn’t been won by Saints for 5 years was a great feeling and immensely helped build team chemistry. Hopefully the team will be able to build off this momentum moving into the season.”