CACHS Knights aiming for top-three finish in CAHSSL

Thomas Nolan of the CACHS Knights advances the ball during last year's Central Alberta High School Soccer League final tournament at Edgar Athletic Park in Red Deer. The game ended in a 2-1 loss, marking the first time in three years the Knights fell in the championship game. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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The Central Alberta Christian High School (CACHS) Knights boys soccer team’s outright dominance of the Central Alberta High School Soccer League (CAHSSL) is a thing of the past.

At least for this season.

The team sat atop the league standings for three seasons straight, and took the zone championship two years in a row. Last year, they just narrowly lost in what was a heartbreaking 2-1 final against the Notre Dame Cougars, and with just two games left in the season, are now in the mix with two other teams for second spot with a 4-1 record.

Head Coach Travis Eggink said it was to be expected, given the school’s small population – just 75 students this year – and the loss of about six Grade 12 athletes at the end of the 2018 season.

“We don’t have the depth we’ve had in past years,” he said. “We definitely had a disproportionate number of Grade 12’s last year, and missing that many this year is tough.  The rest of the team is stepping up, playing well and learning the game which is fun to see, but we just don’t have the depth.”

The team has scored 15 goals and only allowed nine in their five games played, but the stats trail the Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School Raiders’ near perfect 4-0-1 record where they shut out every team they faced until Tuesday’s game against Olds, where they tied with Olds 1-1.

Eggink didn’t hold anything back in calling Thurber the best team in the league and a “cut above” the rest. Still, he believes they’ll have a good shot at medalling, if not challenging for gold at the zone championships in Red Deer June 15.

“We’re still competitive and our goal is to finish in the top three. We think that’s attainable for us and so that’s what we’re aiming for, recognizing Lindsay Thurber’s strength,” he said. “If we can get lucky one game we might catch them, but they are definitely the more talented (team) this year.”

What might give CACHS the edge – and what has given them success in past years – is the team’s ability to get along and know each other’s expectations, which Eggink said has been key, and something that could only be developed in a smaller school where the players know each other well on and off the field.

As for what they need to work on, he said some players need to work on their “touch” on the ball, which isn’t quite as good as it has been in past years.

CACHS was supposed to play Hunting Hills High School on Thursday, May 30, however, the game was postponed due to a nine rating on the Air Quality Health Index in the Red Deer region as of game time. The game will instead be played on Tuesday June 11 at 4:15 p.m. at the CACHS soccer field.

They will also face the Lindsay Thurber Raiders on Monday, June 10 on the road.

The played against St. Joseph on the road Monday, June 3, where they edged their opponents 1-0.

The final CAHSSL tournament will be held on Saturday, June 15 at the Collicutt Centre and Hunting Hills fields. Schedule to be announced.