TRURO - The Cobequid Cougars looked poised to claim the Northumberland region girls soccer championship.
But a 1-0 lead slipped from their grasp with 20 minutes remaining and it was the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Royals who left CEC Field Tuesday clutching the Division 1 girls soccer banner, leaving the stunned Cougars wondering what the heck just happened.
"We know we played a good game and controlled a good amount of the play," Cougars head coach Trevor Gordon said. "We know we didn't lose the game because we played badly, we got a couple unlucky breaks."
The result means the Cougars will have to win a pair of qualifying matches Oct. 26 and 27 in order to keep their dream of getting back to the provincial championship for a third consecutive season alive.
"We're going to stay positive because we can still go (to provincials)," Cougars senior fullback Taylor Lynds said. "It's not the end of the world. We've got two more chances to go. It's just a longer road to take to get there."
So how did the Cougars end up on that road? Kim Duggan struck in the 45th minute to give the Cougars their lead. But the Royals started to push back mid-way through the second half and were able to sustain some pressure in the Cougars end. They were rewarded with a penalty kick about 20 yards outside the 18-yard box.
The Royals ended up scoring on a shot to the top corner and two minutes later capitalized on a corner kick to turn the tables on the Cougars, who finished first in the regular season and earned a bye into the final.
"We got a little scrambled in our own end, we weren't calm and they got a few lucky bounces," senior fullback Katie McCavour said.
Gordon said the first Royals goal was the turning point in the contest.
"They tied the game and got some immediate life," he said. "Luck swung their way for a few minutes and forced us to have to hurry to score to tie it up."
The Cougars generated several quality chances in the dying minutes, but failed to convert.
Gordon said it's important for his team to move on and focus on getting through their qualifying matches. The team starts that quest at practice today.
"We need to be ready for qualifiers," he said. "We know we're on the hard road now and we're going to have to work for it to make it (to provincials)."
The Cougars boys squad opened their regional final - a two-game, total-goal format - last night in Antigonish against the Royals. A result was unavailable at press time.
Cobequid finished first in the regular season table to earn a bye to the final.