ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – Ontario’s Rachel Homan is back on top of Canadian women’s curling, but it was far from easy.
Moments after her 7-6, extra-end win, Homan said it was the toughest game of her career. Homan made a pressure-packed four-foot runback on her final shot of an extra end to defeat Manitoba’s Michelle Englot in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts final.
The 2013 and 2014 champion made several electrifying shots, including a short double in the 10th end that saved the game, an across-the-house double for three in the second end and a welded-on freeze in the ninth end.
She needed every one of those shots to win. The game, played in front of 4,143 rabid fans at the Meridian Centre, will go down as a classic in Scotties history.
“That’s a tough sport. That’s a tough sport,” Homan said moments after the win. “That’s an unbelievable win by my team. That’s the hardest win we have ever fought for, I think, especially with all the pressure and everything on the line.
“We gave it everything we had and it was just enough. We’re representing Canada and it’s a surreal feeling. I can’t wait to put the Maple Leaf on,” said Homan, who was backed by vice-skip Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney, lead Lisa Weagle and coach Adam Kingsbury.
Homan said she was confident as she set up to throw the final rock.
“Obviously, the nerves and the adrenalin are pumping like crazy. I think it was almost worse for the 10th-end shot with everything on the line.”
Manitoba was two down and counting three as Homan went to shoot. The short slash double kept the game going.
Englot, vice-skip Kate Cameron, second Leslie Wilson, lead Raunora Westcott, alternate Krysten Karwacki and coach Ron Westcott fought back from the early 3-1 deficit, scoring one in the third and stealing singles in the fifth and seventh ends to go up 4-3.
Homan got two in the eighth despite missing her last rock.
Several well-executed freezes gave the Ontario team the advantage in nine. Englot was forced to try to pick an Ontario rock off the button to count. Englot missed wide with her first shot and rubbed the guard with her second. That gave Homan a 6-4 lead coming home.
Given the way the Homan team hits, many thought it was over. Not among those were the Manitobans who played a superb 10th end. With Englot counting three, all collected at the back of the house, Homan made the double to send the game to an extra end.
“Our goal was to get a deuce there and we had the three setup,” Englot said. “Again she made a great double. At that point, you regroup and go for the extra.”
She said the games playoff games with Homan were classics.
“They were both amazing games,” she said. “Both teams played fairly solid. It could have gone either way for sure.”
Englot, who defeated Homan in the Page 1-2 game Friday, said her team has an exciting future.
“This whole week has been a great experience for our team, being a first-year team. Heading into next year, we had a two-year commitment, to make it to the Olympic trials, so we will regroup and plan our schedule for next year and try to peak at the right time.”
Englot was proud of the way her team played in the final.
“It was a testament to my team for the battle they have in them and never giving up. We have so much to work towards next year and we have so many good things going on. We will regroup and talk about what we can do better.”
Homan, named the winner of the Sandra Schmirler Award as the playoff MVP, received $205,900 for the win. The total includes $144,000 in funding from Sport Canada.
Englot won $26,900 and earned 47.548 points.
Homan now advances to the CPT World Women’s Curling Championship, presented by Ford of Canada, next month in Beijing, China.
Total attendance for the week here was 56,804.