Lessons learned at Portland’s Nike tournament

The Kootenay Thunder Regional U17 Girls program took its game to Portland to compete in the Mt. Hood Nike Challenge late last month, taking on teams from all over the northwestern United States.

The Kootenay  Thunder regional girls soccer club features several Nelson-raised players.The team has been travelling to tournaments in search of high quality competition

The Kootenay Thunder regional girls soccer club features several Nelson-raised players.The team has been travelling to tournaments in search of high quality competition

The Kootenay Thunder Regional U17 Girls program took its game to Portland to compete in the Mt. Hood Nike Challenge late last month, taking on teams from all over the northwestern United States.

The girls’ first game against a U18 Tracyon City, a Washington team, saw the Kootenay girls walk away with an easy 2-0 score line.

“The final outcome didn’t reflect the dominance the Kootenay players had in this game and it could have easily been 5-0,” said coach Dave Spendlove.

Goals from Morag Peterson and Paige Mansveld secured the points for the Kootenays with new additions Deana Barnes, Erin White, Alex Juricic and Becky Bedell from Cranbrook and Jenna Stoushnow from Castlegar all making debuts and all performing well.

The second game on Saturday morning was the toughest test for the weekend when the local girls were matched up against Crossfire Academy from Seattle.

If the game winner was to be awarded on possession the Thunder would taken the points. Unfortunately for the Kootenay team, chances went amiss and Crossfire scored with the last kick of the game.

“It was one of the best performances ever from the Kootenay girls in the program’s two-year history,” said Spendlove. “Paige Mansveld was a standout in this game with Brittany Wheeler and Samantha Einarson both playing solid games in the back.”

The loss put the Thunder into the silver flight bracket for the playoffs. If they had scored one more goal in their two previous games they would have moved into the gold flight bracket.

Saturday’s playoff game saw the Thunder up against F.C. Ellensburg, a typical U.S. soccer style team, great fitness and speed being their main attributes.

The Thunder slowly took control of the game and in the second half, playing the possession soccer that has attracted scouts from various colleges in the U.S. to watch the Kootenay girls, they took total control and slammed four goals past the bewildered Ellensburg defense.

One of the goals scored by Andrea Stinson was a seven one touch passing move. Started by Stinson and midfield dynamo Taylor Stewart, and involving another four Thunder players, the play brought an ovation even from the Ellensburg bench. Hailey Mclean also scored on a solo effort. She ripped an absolute screamer into the top corner, while Stinson and Morag Peterson each added their second goals for the weekend to finish the rampant second half performance and come away with a 4-0 victory. This win saw the Thunder move into the final of the silver flight bracket.

Sunday morning’s final at the impressive Nike Complex Ronaldinho field saw the Thunder up against a very tough Latino team from Washington called W.A.F.C. Vipers. It was a great game of soccer with a hard tackling U.S. team against the skill of the Kootenay team.

The Thunder again dominated possession, hitting the post in the first half and missing a penalty in the second half. The Vipers took advantage of a new back line for the Thunder and pressured the Thunder girls who were still getting their bearings at this level of play to take a 1-0 victory. Strong performances from new additions Becky Bedall in midfield, Erica Augsten, Elise and Natasha Hewitt made for a great game.

The Regional program will train until November when they are invited to play in the Fieldturf Showcase event in Seattle, another major event with 50 college coaches from the U.S. and Canada in attendance.