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This article was published 6/6/2019 (392 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The River East Kodiaks finished the 2019 varsity girls soccer season with a pair of banners, but they came up just short of a provincial title.
The Kodiaks ’rivalry with the West Kildonan Wolverines played itself out again over the 2019 outdoor season. The Kodiaks beat the Wolverines 3-0 for the Kilcona Peguis Athletics Conference championship banner on May 15 for the second year running. Last season, REC won the division title 2-1 following a dramatic 13-round shootout.
But the Wolverines got the best of the Kodiaks in the provincial final on May 31, winning 1-0.
"In the KPAC final everything jelled," Kodiaks’ head coach Jeff Spark said. "We scored early goal, then managed to find a couple more. But in the final, we knew West K would be coming out hard. We had some chances early. But they got one in the second half and we couldn’t buy a goal."
"They’re a really skilled team, so you can’t be too mad," said Lexi Rarog, a Grade 12 midfielder for River East who was named to the provincial all-star team. "Overall, we had a good season, with just a couple unlucky games where one goal decided the game against us."
"We got it into our head that it was our biggest game, that this game mattered most, but we weren’t able to follow through with scoring," added Claudia Melo, a Grade 11 defender who was also named a provincial all-star.
Kodiaks’ midfielder Kaitlyn Klassen was also named to the provincial all-star team.
Along with their KPAC championship and provincial finalist banners, the Kodiaks added two tournament wins to their list of achievements this past season. They beat West Kildonan in the final of the River East home tournament 4-0 on May 4, and defeated Westwood 3-0 in the Portage la Prairie tournament final on May 25.
Key to the Kodiaks success this year was a solid defensive line, and the team’s work ethic.
"They jel well together, very skilled, very talented," Spark said. "We had a very dedicated group of 21 athletes this season. It shows they were enjoying it, that they were having fun and enjoyed the game."
Grade 9 goaltender Kaitlyn Mantek also shone in net for the team all season.
"She’s one of the best in the province in terms of aggressiveness," he said.
With that core remaining in place next season, the Kodiaks will be looking to build on their strong play this season, and hopefully bolster their offence if they are to defend their division title and make another run at the provincial championship.
"We’re losing a few Grade 12, but our whole defensive line are all returning, so we’re in good shape there," Spark said. "For us, it will be finding that way to score some goals and put us over the top."
"We need to follow through with our plays, finish them all with a goal," Melo said. "We’ll need to work hard and stay positive on the field, even if the other team scores."
For Rarog, the loss in the final marked the end to her high school athletics career.
"I’m sad it’s over," she said. "I’d recommend to anyone to join a school sport."
Community journalist — The Herald
Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112
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