THORNHILL -- As he left the Thornhill Golf and Country Club Wednesday afternoon, a spectator was overheard on his cellphone saying, "Rachel Homan is head and shoulders above everyone else."
He may have been a bit premature.
After getting off to a 4-0 start, the Ottawa CC skip and 2010 Canadian junior champion stumbled for the first time Wednesday night at the Ontario Scotties Tournament of Hearts, falling 8-6 to Susan McKnight of Uxbridge. The key end was the seventh, which turned around in a hurry when McKnight made a comearound that led to a three after Homan's third, Emma Miskew, had made a triple kill to lie two with her first shot.
The result left the pair tied atop the standings at 4-1.
"We started out kind or rocky, but we got our stuff together," McKnight said of her rink, which includes Susan Froud, Karen Roswell and Cindy McKnight. "After the fifth end we played much better, made more shots like we can instead of missing them and tried to make them make tougher shots."
McKnight has quietly put together a solid week after much of the early attention was focused on the likes of Homan and two-time defending champion Krista McCarvilleof Thunder Bay Fort William.
"That was fine with us, flying under the radar," McKnight said. "We knew we'd have to play some tough teams, and maybe some people might notice us now."
Homan wasn't very talkative after the loss.
"I guess so," she said when asked if this was her hiccup for the week. "We just missed shots."
Meanwhile, McCarville won her third straight, stealing three in the 10th to seal an 8-4 win over Tracy Horgan of Sudbury Ildylwylde in a rematch of last year's final. They're at 3-2 along with Lisa Farnell of Elgin Loonie, who edged Ashley Kallos of Fort William 6-5.
"It's starting to come, but I'm still not feeling myself totally. I don't think I've struggled like this for the last two years," said McCarville, who stole three in the 10th to win her fourth-draw game 8-5 over Kristy Russell of Shelburne.
"I am starting to get some of my confidence back, though. We talked between games about how we could easily have been 0-4, so we were really happy with the position we were in and to now have a winning record is great. Every end we're out there, we're gaining more experience with the ice."
Kallos is at 2-3 along with Alison Goring of The Club at North Halton and Marlo Dahl of Thunder Bay Port Arthur. Goring took one in the 10th to edge Kristy Russell of Shelburne 7-6 while Dahl was beaten 10-4 by Marika Bakewell of London Highland. Bakewell and Russell are at 1-4.
"It's always nice to get your first win at your first Scotties," Bakewell said. "We knew it was coming. We're such good friends and we knew we weren't going to go winless. We just hung tough and stayed focused."
It's been a tough week for Russell, who moved up from second to take over the rink after the Challenge Round when regular skip Christy Cadorin was rendered unavailable by out-of-country work commitments.
In the other fourth-draw games, Homan took two in the first, stole one in the second and went on to beat Horgan 6-2; McKnight took a 5-1 lead after three and held on to beat Kallos 8-6; Farnell made a nice in-off for three in the fourth en route to a 7-5 win over Bakewell; and Dahl opened with a four-spot and thumped Goring 9-2.