After dominant performances at zones and divisionals, W.H. Croxford High School's senior girls' curling team finished the high-school curling season with an even split at the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) provincial championships earlier this month in St. Paul.
The Cavaliers – comprised of Grade 11 Danica Pirart (skip), Grade 12 Jordan Frankiewitz (third), Grade 11 Karina Patayanikorn-Fithen (second), and Grade 12 Valeria Gutierrez (lead) won two of their four matches in St. Paul to end their season as the fifth strongest high-school girls' curling team in Alberta.
Coach Mark Pendergast said competing at provincials from March 1 to 3 was a valuable learning experience for the girls, who had won all of their matches at the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) bonspiel and the South Central Zones championships earlier this season to qualify for the ASAA competition.
According to Pendergast, the Cavaliers suffered a tough loss in their opening draw, but rebounded to win the next two fixtures before losing their fourth and final match of the weekend.
“We came into provincials sort of feeling good, because we’d done very well in zones and divisionals,” he said. “We’d beaten all the teams we’d faced with only one or two close games, which we still ended up running away with.
“In provincials, I think the girls weren’t really ready for the calibre of play that was there. That first [loss] helped us step our game up and we won the next two, and then lot our fourth, so we ended up 2-2 overall.”
Croxford's opening draw in St. Paul saw them matched up against the defending ASAA champion, Sexsmith Seconary School. Pendergast said the loss to the defending Alberta champs was humbling, and showed the Cavaliers they'd need to step it up a gear for the rest of the weekend.
“They really gave us an eye-awakening game, so the girls learned a lot from that game, and they took that into the games moving forward,” he said.
The Cavaliers' ensuing draws saw them defeat Roland Michener Secondary School from Slave Lake and St. Albert Catholic High School to go 2-1.
The Airdrie rink's tournament ended after their fourth match, which was a loss to a team from Holy Rosary High School, of Lloydminster.
“We kind of ended up in fifth, but it’s hard to tell because we were kind of tied with another team in the other pool that was also 2-2,” Pendergast said.
He said the athletes worked hard on their strategy in practices and at bonspiels, and their efforts paid off in nearly all of their matches this winter.
A positive attitude and strong team chemistry were other factors in the team's success, according to their coach.
“I think another big thing is they just came together as a team,” Pendergast said. “When they started getting stressed out and worried and frustrated, they didn’t play as well, but when they were out there happy, having fun, dancing and being a bit silly, they played great. That joy of the game and having fun seemed to actually increase their success.”