Falling short of expectations was part of the journey in this year’s high school soccer season for September’s athletes of the month, whose teams saw their season end at home when they lost the finals of the Zone 11 soccer championships to the teams from Hapnot Collegiate Institute of Flin Flon.
“It was pretty disappointing,” said Grade 11 student Tatum O’Meara from R.D. Parker Colleigate’s girls’ squad. “We were just talking about going to the provincials all season. It just didn’t happen.”
O’Meara gives credits to her opponents for that.
“They had a really good defence line,” she said. “They were tough to get through.”
The widely varying skill levels of the teams at the tournament also made it difficult to prepare for a tougher foe, even as it made the pat to the finals easier.
“They’re just so different,” she said. “Flin Flon was a lot more hard to play than Moose Lake. We scored like 20 goals on them.”
The male athlete of the month is Edon Shabani, for whom the loss in the finals was the end of his high school soccer career, which began three years ago when he moved to Canada from Albania.
“We were trying to in zones and go to provincials,” said the Grade 12 student. “My coaches Nuno and Walter, they wanted to win so bad. Coach Nuno said he wasn’t able to play soccer when he was my age. I tried my hardest to make him proud.”
Overall he said, the Trojans performed well in the final, despite the loss.
“We played pretty good,” he said.
Ironically, it may have been the lightning-fast start against Hapnot that spelled the end for his squad.
“As soon as we scored the first goal, just everything went different because probably my team thought it was the end of the game.,” said Shabani.
Personally, Shabani felt he played well in the final game, when he was called upon to take numerous free kicks, even if emotion got the better of him.
“My coach said take placement over power and I just couldn’t control myself because I wanted to score and win,” said Shabani, who had a couple of close calls. “I hit the crossbar, I think twice.”
Now that his high school playing days are behind him, Shabani is considering giving the game a shot back in Europe, where the beautiful game is king.
“I might move to Switzerland and go play soccer there,” says Shabani, who is a single-sport athlete, like many others in his native Albania. “They only play soccer, not even basketball or anything . They don’t even know about hockey.”
As for O’Meara, she has plenty of games and competition to go before her final high school soccer season.
“I’m in volleyball right now and definitely basketball, definitely track,” she says. “I might try out badminton too. I’ve never played before.”
Still, soccer is number one in her heart and she figures that’s why she was chosen as athlete of the month, an honour she’s taken home before.
“I really enjoy playing soccer and I think I’m pretty good at it, I’m not going to lie,” O’Meara says. “It’s my favourite sport and I give it my all when I play on the field.”
Shabani thinks his effort won him the award.
“I think they know that I tried hard and it was my last year,” he said. “I gave everything I could.”
Both athletes are also thankful to those who made their season possible.
“Thanks to my coach Stanley Wong and my team and Edon and my number one fan Lori Miscavish,” said O’Meara, while Shabani thanked his coaches and teammates as well.