The Nelson Selects U13 girls threw down a significant marker to the rest of the Kootenay region on Saturday, romping to two big wins on their way to winning the Kootenay spot for the BC B Cup Provincials in July.
Nelson defeated Kootenay South 8-2 and Kootenay East 5-1 to take the gold medal, and the all important berth to head to Kelowna in three weeks time.
There was significant concern that the matches would be unable to go ahead due to the unfavourable weather over the previous few days.
“We felt that the vast amount of rainfall and slick field conditions would help both Kootenay South and Kootenay East and hinder our side,” said U13 coach Iain Harvey. “We were concerned that our pass-and-move style would be harder to recreate on muddy fields.”
The Nelson girls emphatically proved their coach wrong and showed absolutely no fear as they decimated the backline of Kootenay South time and time again, scoring five goals before the end of the first half.
Things didn’t change during the second half as Nelson controlled the vast majority of play with their clever passing and movement, scoring an additional three goals in the process.
“The one sticking point for the coaching staff was the last ten minutes as we fell asleep and conceded two late goals that had a tinge of Christmas generosity to them,” said Harvey.
But it was far too little and too late for Kootenay South, as the final was 8-2 for Nelson. Amy Hodgson continued her rich vein of goal scoring form with a hat trick. Additional strikes came from Emma Wheeldon and Laurel Halleran with two apiece and Jessie Vandonselaar with the single marker.
Cranbrook played Kootenay South early in the afternoon and in a tense affair Kootenay East came away with a 2-0 win. That meant that Nelson had to draw or win to go through.
“Generosity again reared its’ ugly head as some defensive-third mixups lead to Cranbrook scoring the first goal midway through the first half,” said Harvey. “But we quickly replied with a penalty kick from Laurel Halleran, followed by a goal from a corner by Marley Reynold.”
Nelson came into the half with the 2-1 lead intact, but it was the second half where the true colours of the Selects showed
“The girls put on a brilliant display of how the game should be played, showing exactly why soccer is called the ‘Beautiful Game’!” said coach Pat Hodgson.
The U13s tallied three times in the second half, led by another from Hodgson thanks to persistence from Noa Butterfield and Holly Rimmer. Laurel Halleran then finished an exceptional team goal involving eight consecutive passes to make it 4-1.
“Cranbrook barely saw the ball and when they did get it, our backline lead by McKenna Bennett, Megan Tennant, Cassidy Kiraly, and Emma Weiland dealt with every danger quite handily,” said Harvey.
The final whistle blew on a 5-1 outcome and the U13 Selects completed the first part of their team goal for the season.
“We have arrived at this point by playing the game the right way, and the proof for my players and parents is in the results we just attained,” said Harvey. “The team is the star here, not individuals, and it really showed in our football today.”
Nelson now goes to Cranbrook this coming weekend to take part in the Sam Steele tournament, before getting ready to head to provincials in Kelowna July 5 to 8.