The results for the Nelson Selects U14 Girls had a touch of Greek mythology to them this weekend at the Terry Walgren Memorial Tournament on home pitch. As like Icarus, the U14s flew too high and ended up eventually crashing back down to earth.
Playing up an age level against regional U15 teams, the U14s came flying out of the gates against Kootenay South U15s (Trail/Castlegar/Rossland/Fruitvale) on Friday night, jumping into an early lead and then exchanging goals with their opposition until they scored two late second half goals to best their opponents 6-3.
Emma Wheeldon continued her early season goal scoring form with a hattrick, ably supported by two from Laurel Halleran and a cracking free kick goal from Megan Tennant.
“We blew them away early”, said head coach Iain Harvey. “And I think they were shell-shocked at how well we move the ball around the pitch.”
Emma Weiland picked up where she left off from the Coeur d’Alene tournament with a brilliant display in the middle of the park for the Selects.
The ladies followed up that success with a resounding 4-1 win over Columbia Valley U15s on Saturday afternoon. The U14s continued to surprise their older opponents with their tenacity, passing and movement, and skill levels.
Wheeldon was once again on the score sheet with a further two goals, while Halleran and Taylor Zimmer added single markers to the result.
“We overcame the setback of them equalizing against us early,” said assistant coach Chris Butterfield. “And then the girls just ground their opponents down with their passing abilities.”
Butterfield also singled out Brenna Barnhart as the player of the game for Nelson. “We’ve been preaching a lot of things to Brenna and in this game she just had it all click for her,” said Butterfield.
Nelson could afford to relax slightly for their last round-robin match with Creston U15s on Sunday, as their previous results guaranteed them a place in the final that afternoon. Harvey turned the helm over to second-year assistant Pat Hodgson and he lead the Selects to an extremely lopsided 1-0 win over their regional rivals.
“I haven’t seen us dominate a team in such a manner and only score one goal,” said Hodgson after the match.
Jasmine Faulkner scored the only goal of the game for Nelson as they peppered the Creston goal but couldn’t quite apply the finishing touch when needed. Amy Hodgson was desperately unlucky in the match as she hit the post despite her terrific work in and around the net for Nelson Keeper Ava Strautman had little to do but watch for the vast majority of the match.
It all came down to a rematch of the Friday night match for Nelson, as they again played Kootenay South for the gold medal on Sunday afternoon.
Regrettably, the girls looked like they were jaded from their previous efforts, as Kootenay South jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on their younger opposition and controlled the first half.
The U14s regrouped in the second half and started playing as they had all weekend, but the hole they had dug themselves into was too big to get out of and they eventually succumbed to a 3-1 loss. Halleran again scored for Nelson and it was her efforts in the second half along with McKenna Bennett cajoling more out of her teammates that ignited the spark for the Selects in the second half.
“The loss in the final was a bitter pill to swallow for us after all our efforts on the weekend,” said Harvey of the match. “But the fact that we dominated teams and players older than us will be yet another building block for us this season as we try to get back to provincials once again.”
The U14s now head off this coming weekend to Kalispell, Montana for the “Three Blind Refs” tournament.