Don’t call it an upset.
The combined Highland-Parkside boys indoor soccer team took a three win, three loss and three tie regular season record to the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board playoffs. The sixth place team beat third place Sir John A. Macdonald 2-1 in the quarterfinals, then beat first place Sherwood 1-0 to advance to the city final. Last Wednesday, Highland topped third place Saltfleet 2-1 to claim the city championship.
Saltfleet coach Steve Kountouris said the Storm was considered the favourite going into the final. They had just shut out third-place Westdale 4-0 in a semi-final.
“(Highland) shut down our star, Ales Markovic – who was our MVP. They played well defensively, and shut down many top scorers in the league,” Kountouris said.
Parkside business teacher, and the combined team’s coach, Scott Kilby agreed the regular season standings might make the team’s playoff success seem like a series of upsets. But he pointed out the numbers may not tell the whole story.
“In our league games, we beat (Macdonald) and only lost to Sherwood by one goal,” Kilby said. “It was a fairly even league this year.”
The team playing under the Highland banner featured six Parkside players and five Highland players. Kilby said it was rewarding to see the mix of Dundas athletes getting along so well.
“We played with a great team concept all year. Each player worked as hard off the ball as they did when they were in possession of the ball,” Kilby said.
He pointed out the quarter-final against Mac ended in a 1-1 tie. Highland’s goal was scored by Turner Gardiner but actually involved five players passing and moving their way up the field to eventually create a tap-in goal. They won the match 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out.
“A big reason for the team’s success in the playoffs was our confidence, and belief that the next goal was coming. The players didn’t panic and get desperate. The work ethic was exemplary.”