Knights' Athleticism Secures Soccer Title

Knights' Athleticism Secures HWCAA Soccer Title
Posted on 06/07/2024
SoccerBy Larry Moko

The key to success for the St. Thomas More Knights in junior girls’ high school soccer this season was athleticism.

“I have athletes across the board this year,” Knights coach Claire Burke said following More’s 2-1 victory over the Bishop Tonnos Titans in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association championship game Wednesday.

It was More’s first league title since 2022.

“Every single girl on this team is an unbelievable athlete,” Burke added. “Maybe not a soccer player, per se, but athletic beyond words.”

An example of that type of player is Mira Tang. The Grade 9 striker scored More’s first goal after taking a quick cross in transition from Mattea Starcevic.

“Mira is a basketball superstar,” Burke said. “She can play basketball, volleyball, anything you want. She’s our Grade 9 captain, actually.”

“Basketball is my main sport,” Tang said. “I play it at a high level. My hope is to get a scholarship to the States for basketball.”

Tonnos opened the scoring when Olivia Germana lofted in an angled shot to the corner and More replied with the winning goal late in the first half. On the play, Mattea Starcevic stole the ball and found the mark with a low shot.

“Mattea, our other striker, has been phenomenal,” the More coach said.

Tonnos, which finished second in the league standings behind More, applied the pressure in the second half. And that caused Burke to move Tang to a defender’s role.

“I brought her back to centre back to keep the lead,” Burke said, “particularly towards the late part of the second half. I was trying to settle the waters. I think it worked.

“I felt she could play literally anywhere. She can play any sport at any position on the field. She’s that talented.”

The Titans and Knights tied 1-1 during the regular season.

“It wasn’t our day,” Tonnos coach Christina Barbati said. “I knew it would be a good game, but playing at More is always an uphill battle.”

Neither team had lost a game during the regular schedule. Tonnos was 3-0-2 before blanking the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals, 4-0, in a semifinal. More finished with a 4-0-1 record and then topped the Bishop Ryan Celtics, 4-1, in its semifinal.

Other players on the More roster included Julia Sitney, Alexa Carobelli, Victoria Kaminski, Deijah Evans, Ashlyn Bates, Alyssa Bates, Kriszna Arzadon, Stella Cox, Angelica Morcone, Maya Farr, Caitlin Connolly, Sally Hamid, Page Kyere, Emma Mayens, Jordana Boschman, Alex White, Izzy Singh and Gianna Gallo.

Burke, who used to coach at Tonnos during her 12 years at that neighbouring west Mountain school, led a Titans junior boys’ soccer team to a championship in 2010.

She has coached both senior and junior girls soccer at More, winning a junior title in 2019 and again in ’22.

Photos by R.F. Bob Butrym, RFB Sport Photography

More photos on the HWCDSB Athletics Facebook page here