Four-Game Win Streak Positions St. Mary Girls’

Four-Game Win Streak Positions St. Mary Girls’ Soccer Team for Championship Glory
Posted on 05/08/2024

By Larry Moko

Look out for the St. Mary Crusaders senior girls’ high school soccer team.

Although only third in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league standings (4-2), the Crusaders are currently riding a four-game winning streak.

St. Mary also has won two tournaments this season – McMaster and Ancaster – and its lineup features a dynamic forward (Caitlyn Gratton) who will be attending Providence College in Rhode Island next fall on an NCAA Division I soccer scholarship.

Gratton scored the opening goal as the Crusaders topped the visiting St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves, 3-0, Tuesday.

“I honestly think we are the team to beat,” Crusaders coach Lora te Boekhorst said. “We’re not here just to show up and compete. We’re here to win this year.

“If we play our game with enough confidence and composure, I think we have a good chance. I really do.”

It will be a tough assignment for St. Mary, however, considering the two teams above them in the standings – St. Thomas More and St. John Henry Newman – are recent OFSAA gold-medal winners at the AAA level.

“The girls have put in the work,” te Boekhorst said. “They’ve bought in as a team. We’ve been going since the end of January.”

Against sixth-place Brebeuf (1-4-1) , St. Mary also got goals by Abby Girard and Hailey Sembay.

“We had multiple people scoring, which is ideal,” the Crusaders coach said. “We work everything up from our defence. Our defence has been dominant this year. We’ve given up very few goals.”

St. Mary pulled away by scoring twice in the second half against the Braves.

“It was a tough one for us,” Brebeuf coach Julie Perri said. “We had our moments, though. (St. Mary) is always a fit and athletic team.”

Perri was particularly impressed by speedy and powerful Gratton, who is proficient with both feet and has the ability to turn and get the shot off.

“She’s fantastic,” Perri said. “I was lucky enough to coach her when she was young. She’s always been a force to be reckoned with. She’s just that much more dominant now that she’s in her graduating year.”

Gratton didn’t play high school soccer last year. Instead she joined the Buffalo-based New York Flash in hopes of showcasing her talents to U.S. universities. Her previous training locally was with the Ancaster, Hamilton Sparta and Hamilton United organizations.

"It's been really nice," Caitlyn said of the opportunity this year to play for St. Mary alongside her Grade 10 sister, Madison. "I think we work well together. We have a good dynamic up front."

Caitlyn will, in a way, be following the same path that her coach took. Te Boekhorst who won numerous OFSAA basketball and soccer championships as a player at St. Mary, then went on to play for Niagara University.

"Caitlyn is a big forward and has such a presence on the team," te Boekhorst said. "She has a very bright future. I'm excited for her."

In other games Tuesday, Newman and More each remained undefeated. The Cardinals (5-0-1) edged the Bishop Tonnos Titans, 2-1, while the Knights (5-0-1) blanked the ACMT Jaguars, 7-0. The fourth-place Cathedral Gaels also saw action with a 2-1 victory over the seventh-place Bishop Ryan Celtics.

Photos by Bob Butrym, RFB Sport Photography

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