Rachel Homan's young Ontario team kept rolling at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts with a 13-5 playoff win over Nova Scotia's Heather Smith-Dacey on Saturday.
Homan advanced to the semifinal later Saturday to meet Saskatchewan's Amber Holland. The winner of the semifinal takes on three-time defending champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg in Sunday's championship game.
The four athletes on Homan's Ottawa team are an average age of 22, but finished third in the preliminary round with an 8-3 record to earn a playoff spot. Ontario remained in contention to win a Canadian women's curling championship in their first appearance.
"It's pretty cool," Homan said. "We have a lot of support in the stands and they're a lot of fun. Friends, family, relatives. They're making us laugh and keeping it light. Win or lose, they're proud of us."
The turning point Saturday was the fifth end. Homan's raise hit in the fifth end spilled three Nova Scotia stones to lay five, with four counters bunched together. Smith-Dacey was able to clear only one from the rings, leaving Homan a draw for five and a 7-2 lead.
"It was a pretty short runback and we knew there was a big chance for a big end there, so why not? Throw the big weight," Homan said. "My heart rate was up there, that's for sure. It felt really good to get that five, but there was lots of game left."
One of Ontario's strengths is throwing big-weight takeouts with accuracy, which is an important weapon in defending a lead. Homan hitting percentages were far higher than Smith-Dacey's.
"When you leave her the upweight shots, she's looking for it all the time and she got to play it pretty much every shot," Smith-Dacey said.
Smith-Dacey went 7-4 and beat B.C.'s Kelly Scott in a tiebreaker to earn a playoff game against Ontario. Nova Scotia will play the semifinal loser for the bronze medal Sunday.