The Nelson Selects U12 Girls sent two teams to the Kelowna Canada Day Tournament this past weekend. Consisting of 10 players each, with a mix of U11 and U12, both squads returned home with a medal.
The Selects team coached by Darren Peloso opened with a 6-1 dismantling of the Kootenay South Storm highlighted by a beautifully taken Rylee Zondervan free kick goal and Ella Peloso’s performance in net, receiving the game MVP as awarded by the opposing team.
The second game matched the girls against the Rutland Griffins. Early goals and some good late defending by Carly Rich and Ivie Lock-Luttmer preserved the 5-4 win. The game MVP was collected by Taylor Harrison who continued to show what would be consistent scoring, high work rate and offensive pressure throughout the tournament.
The third game matched the girls against a full squad of U12s from Kelowna called the Cyclones. The girls went down 1-0 early, but stuck with their game plan. As the second half wore on, the domination of possession finally paid dividends as Nelson scored three straight to win 3-1.
The midfield of Alex Pompu and Gretchen Lewandowski played especially well along with central midfielder Farrah Marzicola who consistently linked the defense and the offense with her vision and passing skills and ended up with the game MVP.
With a 3-0 record in round robin play, Nelson secured a birth into the championship game.
The final was a rematch with the Kelowna Cyclones. The contest went deep into the second half as Nelson’s defense, anchored superbly all weekend long by Michaela Anderson, kept the Cyclone at bay. As Nelson applied pressure deep into the Kelowna end looking for the decisive goal they were caught out on the counter and conceded a goal against the play.
Again pushing everyone forward the fatigued squad, in the 35 C degree heat, gave another goal up on a counter attack to end the game with a 2-0 loss.
Amanda Creak received a much deserved game MVP award for an outstanding performance on defense.
The Selects team under coaches Rob Borhi and Heath Lockhurst started off the tournament playing a team from Airdrie, Alberta. Near the end of the first half, Sophie Borhi put Nelson on the board 1-0 with a powerful shot. Minutes later, the score was bumped up to 2-0 by Reece Hunt.
Nelson kept the ball in the offensive end for the majority of the game. In the second half, Airdrie rallied with a goal but Nelson was quick to deny them a chance at winning with another bomber of a goal scored by Hunt for a 3-1 win.
The second game was played against a talented Kamloops Blaze team. They scored against the Selects minutes into the first half. A valiant effort to keep the ball out of the Nelson end was taken away when Kamloops scored again minutes later, bringing the score to 2-0.
Offensive maneuvers put the ball in Kamloops end and Hunt scored off a rebound. Borhi then tied the game with a great shot, evening up what was turning out to be a nail-biter of a match.
Kamloops took the lead in the second half, but a Semegn Atkinson goal ended the game at 3-3, leading to a penalty shootout. Hunt was up first, but the shot was blocked. Borhi put a solid one into the net, while Kamloops first two shots went wide. Keeper Sydney World blocked the last shot to give her team the win.
“This Kamloops team had many tall players and no U11 girls,” said coach Borhi. “They entered the tournament as a gold level team, but the Nelson girls played a determined match and never backed down.”
The third match saw the Selects play Westside Kelowna, another full U12 team. Nelson went up 2-0, with Hunt opening up the scoring and Borhi following suit soon after. A defensive slip allowed a Westside goal, leaving the score 2-1.
Even with the majority of the game played in the Westside end, a valiant last-minute effort gave the opposing team the tying goal, leading to another penalty shootout. After 16 penalty shots between the two teams, Westside came away with the win, Nelson’s only loss over the weekend. Goal scorers in the shootout were Borhi, Elisabeth Huiberts and Ashley Caponero.
The Selects finished round robin play in a three-way tie for first place. Tie breaker rules went to goals against, which put Nelson in third place and the bronze medal match, facing Airdrie once again.
In the final game the team showed their aggressive side on the pitch, with a great pass by Borhi to Semegn Atkinson, who put it in the net. The Selects held on to their 1-0 lead to solidify a bronze medal in the tournament.
“The team showed a lot of growth through cohesive plays, great passes, aggressive defense and great saves by keeper World, who deservingly won the team’s MVP of the tournament,” said Borhi. “Huiberts, Mimi Lockhurst, Ruby Linnen and Alexis Dyck showed strong play on defense throughout the weekend, with Addis Atkinson and Caponero adding strength to the offensive playmaking.”
Winning a pair of medals in a strong field of teams from around Western Canada was an impressive feat.
“Both teams showed excellent play over a hot weekend, with few subs,” said coach Borhi. “I don’t think all the players realize just how well they performed, given the conditions they played under.”