Eagles soar to title

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:31 PM ET

Jubilant and joyous, Jayne Clarke revelled in an emotional moment like no other in her young athletic life.

It was a moment the Grade 9 student likely will relive for quite some time.

With the stakes at their absolute highest and the competition as fierce as any sporting backdrop, it was Clarke's overtime goal that would lift her St. John's-Kilmarnock Eagles to a 3-2 win over the Forest Heights Trojans in yesterday's OFSAA girls field hockey final.

"This is the best thing ever,'' Clarke, 13, said amid the din of cheers at L'Amoreaux Park. "There's a feeling of excitement all over my body. It's so exhilarating."

Clarke first began to play field hockey as a Grade 4 student at a school that has embraced the sport with both passion and pride.

SJK is an independent school in Bresleau, an area best described as being situated on the outskirts of Guelph.

"When you think SJK, you think field hockey,'' co-captain Jessalyn Walker said. "When Jayne scored, my heart was just flying. What a phenomenal feeling. I just burst into tears."

"When Jayne scored, my heart was just flying ... I just burst into tears."

JESSALYN WALKER

It's too bad girls field hockey doesn't receive the attention or generate the exposure like more mainstream sports.

The championship pitted the top two seeds and featured momentum shifts, moments of athleticism and emotion that would rival any football, hockey or basketball game.

Both the Eagles and the No. 2-seeded Trojans from Kitchener entered the final unbeaten. Each team had a roster dotted with some very accomplished players.

Besides Clarke, Kendra Domenicucci, Lexie Kennedy, Laura Matthew and Alli Nelson are also in Grade 9, all starters. The only graduating player is Jessica Nelson.

Nelson will undergo knee surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn ACL, but she was summoned in SJK's semi-final against Bluevale and delivered in penalty flicks.

"What a great way to leave school,'' Nelson, a co-captain, said. "What a sense of relief after watching Jayne score. I just ran to her from the sideline."

Two years ago, as OFSAA hosts, Nelson played on SJK's team that took silver after losing in penalty flicks.

Kids such as Annie Deardon, Giulia DeLorenzis, Danielle Greenway, Jessica Jarrell, Katie Moraca, Deanna Schmidt and Heather Siegner were all called upon in the Eagles' road to OFSAA gold.

The girls say they started their journey in late August and each expressed their appreciation for head coach Leanne Dietrich and assistants Andreas Stumpf and Guy Zink.

KUDOS TO THE COMMITTEE

Coaches and athletes were universal in their praise for the work of convener Colette Cunningham-Reimann and her staff, which ran a very good OFSAA event after taking over the championship barely seven weeks ago.


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