Cougars keep season alive

Staff ~ The Truro Daily News
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Cobequid advances to regional final with 1-0 victory over North Nova

TRURO – It was supposed to be a romp for the Cobequid Cougars.

Rachel Hirtle of the Cobequid Cougars, standing, celebrates with teammate Chloe Lauther amongst dejected North Nova Gryphons players after Lauther scored the winning goal in Thursday’s Northumberland region girls soccer semifinal at CEC Field. The Cougars won the match 1-0 and move on to Tuesday’s regional final against the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Royals. Matthew Veno – Truro Daily News

But their Northumberland region girls soccer semifinal against the North Nova Gryphons turned out to be anything but.

The Cougars had to wait for a goal in the 91st minute from Chloe Lauther to win 1-0 at CEC Field and advance to the final Tuesday against the No. 1-seeded Dr. John Hugh Gillis Royals in Antigonish.

“It feels awesome,” Lauther, a senior midfielder, said with a beaming smile. “We had so many chances and just couldn’t score, so it was great to get that goal at the end.”

Lauther’s winner came with the Cougars pressing as the clock ticked into injury time. The ball was played into the area and with Lauther chasing, a North Nova defender came out from the net to clear. But the Gryphons fullback missed the ball, leaving Lauther all alone to ring it off the right post and into the net.

“I just though to myself, ‘I gotta score here,’” Lauther said of seeing the opening. “I saw it go in and I couldn’t stop smiling.”

Lauther, who slid to make the shot, stayed seated and raised her arms to celebrate before the rest of her teammates swarmed her.

A second celebration ensued when the referee blew the final whistle about a minute later.

The Cougars were expected to cruise to victory after recording 3-1 and 6-1 victories over the Gryphons earlier this season. Early on it looked as if the Cougars were off to another lopsided win, swarming the North Nova net with several scoring chances that could have given them a 3-0 cushion in the first five minutes alone. The trend continued for the next 85 minutes, with shot after shot failing to cross the goal line.

Cougars coach Trevor Gordon told his players at half time to keep up their pressure, and that it would pay off eventually.

“We had our way with them except for the scoreboard,” Gordon said. “We didn’t give up any shots on net so it’s frustrating because we were playing so well.”

But as more and more time passed, the tension kept building as both sides tried to attack without getting caught out defensively.

“We didn’t want to get too aggressive because there were a couple times they had a good counter  attack,” Gordon said. “If it goes to overtime and they get a shot on net it could be the end of the season. You think about that stuff.”

It almost came to reality as Madison Munroe was forced to dive to tip the ball just past the post as the Gryphons managed to get a shot on goal late in the game.

Lauther credited keeping the pressure on the North Nova net as the deciding factor for her team.

“We just kept pushing hard and never gave up,” she said. “We knew we could beat them, we just had to keep pushing.”

Gordon said the win is a valuable learning experience for his team, showing the importance of taking advantage of opportunities and the importance of sticking to the game plan.

“It’s a good experience to play under pressure where if you lose your season is over,” he said. “The first half we didn’t really feel it but in the second half we knew we had to produce something or our season is on the line so it’ll be the same thing for next game.”

On Twitter: @tdnmatt

Organizations: North Nova Gryphons, Daily News

Geographic location: North Nova, Northumberland, Antigonish

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