Junior Scottish Cup Thriller For Sharks

Solway Sharks Juniors under 14s headed to Auchenharvie to face North Ayr in the Scottish Cup competition.
Always going to be competitive, the game turned into a hard-fought and thrilling match. The teams started the game evenly matched, and it was a surprise when North Ayr broke the Solway defence early on, sliding the puck past Joshua Leuvennink into the Solway net. The young sharks gathered themselves and quickly regrouped, going on the offensive with Scott Rae, Donald McCuaig and Liam Stenton all having good attempts on goal, while Stenton, Brodie McGinty and new partnership Jack and Joe Little thwarted determined efforts by North Ayr at the other end. The fast pace and determined play by both teams saw the score remain 1-0 to Ayr at the end of the period.
Coach Martyn Mitchell encouraged his players during the break, and they all came back out resolute and inspired. Solway quickly took control of the play, and after further attempts by Matthew Watters and Lennon McNee, captain Liam Stenton pulled one back with a powerful shot from the blue line that the North Ayr keeper could do little about. The travelling Solway crowd, always encouraging, was almost as delighted as the bench to see the score level. More ferocious end-to-end play ensued as Ayr tried to gain advantage, but Solway gritted their teeth, got on with the job, and played some very nice hockey. Further attacks from Harris Henderson and Lewis Gibson were denied by the on-form Ayr keeper, and the score remained even till the end of the period.
The third period was hardly underway when North Ayr managed to score another, but rather than be despondent Solway were motivated to step their game up, and they pulled all the stops out as they mounted yet more determined attacks on the N Ayr goal. Good supporting play from Scott Kirkpatrick and Megan Gourlay helped nearly all the forwards, and some of the defence, with more shots on goal, but they just couldn’t get past the Ayr keeper. A last-ditch attempt in the final few minutes saw coach Mitchell pull Leuvennink out of his net in favour of another skater, and after ferocious play round the Ayr net Jack Little make a sliding save from an Ayr shot to keep the deficit to one until the end of the game. The team was well supported at the end by the travelling crowd, and despite the defeat were proud of their effort and determination. Liam Stenton was deservedly named man of the match.
After the game coach Mitchell said, “I spoke to the guys before the game about how important it was and how I felt we could beat this team. We started strong and the team was playing with confidence. Although we went one down early on the boys didn’t seem to falter. We got it back to 1-1 by the end of the second, and that end of period team talk was the hardest one I’ve ever had to give. I told the team the next period would define their season, and I wanted everything they had from them all. They all rallied and went out strong, and gave everything they had for the whole of the third period, Stenton even smashed the goalie’s helmet with a shot – that’s effort. Unfortunately we conceded, and even pulling Josh for an extra attacker we just couldn’t find the equalizer. After the game the players were all clearly shattered, and it was obvious that they had given everything they had. I am proud of each and every one of them; they played some lovely hockey and kept doing so until the final buzzer.”
Attached photo shows some of the players preparing for the game.

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