Branksome soccer on an early roll

[attach]6480[/attach]Branksome Hall’s senior girls soccer team kicked off its season on the right foot.

After beating St. Clement’s School 5–2 on Sept. 18, the Highlanders kept pace with Oakville’s St. Mildred’s Lightbourn School, with a 2–2 tie on Sept. 20.

The second game, on short rest from their first game, was a close one, but Branksome coach Stephen Casterton thought they played well enough to win.

St. Mildred’s opened the scoring with an odd-angled goal in the first half, with Branksome notching the tying goal at the beginning of the second half — a ball that trickled through the opposing goalie’s hands.

“We did fantastically well to be as competitive throughout, to have our moments on top of the game, as well as our defending moments,” Casterton said. “The tenacity they displayed and their willingness to put themselves forward for the ball and the tackle [was excellent].”

Down 2–1 late in the game, a fire was lit under Branksome, and their aggressive play paid dividends. In the last 20 minutes, with a flurry of shots on net, their striker, Kaitlin Abma, scored the tying goal.

“There was a lot more passing [in the second half], getting it up the wings and then putting right it back in was a lot easier for us,” Abma said.

Branksome midfielder Halle Kukulowicz, who thought the spacing was better for the team, acknowledged her own play in the game, which improved throughout.

“I always get more aggressive in the second half because I want the ball more,” she said. “It’s like more pressure to go further and score because you don’t have as much time.”

Victoria Wight, Branksome’s goalie, saved several shots from St. Mildred’s, many of which came on Branksome’s doorstep.

“They were tough. I wasn’t expecting to save all of them, but I was hoping,” said Wight.

With four points in their first two games — three for a win, one for a tie — the Highlanders are off to a good start. Casterton, over the years he has developed the program, has seen a lot of improvement in the team’s play.

“Many of them I’ve coached since grade 8, and we’ve come through had some success,” he said. “This is our second year with the senior team, and they’re grade 11 now, many of them. [Last year], the core of the team was grade 10, playing against a lot of 11 and 12.”

They’ll need that experience going forward. Their game against St. Mildred’s was the only home game on their CISAA schedule.