In Truro, the Cobequid Educational Centre Cougars will take on the Halifax West Warriors in Division 1 play. Fifteen minutes down the road, the South Colchester Academy Wolves will face the New Germany Saints in Division 3. Both matches are provincial semifinals, both kicking off tournaments hosted by the Colchester schools.
“It’ll be hard games,” Cougars senior Nathan Smith said. “It’ll be good competition. We’ve played those schools in a tournament earlier this year and they were good. We’ll have to try pretty hard.”
Joining CEC and Halifax West will be Park View and Citadel in the other semifinal. The losers will meet in the bronze medal game at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with the winners going in the final at noon.
The Cougars booked their spot in the provincial tournament without having to play a qualifier, due to them hosting and winning their region. They beat Dr. JH Gillis 1-0 two weeks ago to take the Northumberland Regional banner on an own goal in overtime.
While the method to the finish was bizarre, the low-scoring result is something this season’s Cougars have grown accustomed to.
“We’re going to have to play very snug defensively,” said Cougars coach Jay Foster. “We’ll need all 11 guys aware and thinking defence first.”
The Cougars met the Warriors once earlier this season, losing 7-2 in a shortened game. Despite the lopsided loss, all the players came off the field wanting another crack at Halifax West.
“I was really proud of that. These guys want to play against the best. They aren’t going out there hoping this one will go easier. They want to win.”
In Brookfield, the Wolves are getting by after losing longtime players like Ryan Duykers and Garrett Johnson to graduation last season. But they’ve had a few pleasant surprises to start the year, said coach Patti McKenzie.
“It’s a different set up this year. We lost a couple players but we had a couple players come in from Grade 10 who just knocked our socks off.”
One of those was Riley MacLeod, a freshman goalkeeper who took over the starting role after an injury to a Grade 12 keeper. With MacLeod between the pipes, the Wolves proved themselves in 1-0 losses to CEC, and Amherst, a Division 2 club.
McKenzie struggled to find words for how much a provincial win would mean for the team, and for herself. She began coaching the Wolves in 2012, watching one son graduate in 2014, while her youngest son graduates this year.
“It would be pretty immense,” she said. “I’ve coached some of these kids since under-8 soccer… It’s been a sweet thing.”