The 2014 BC Summer Games was by all accounts a great success for the U12 Boys soccer team.
The Kootenay squad finished fifth overall and despite that being the best result ever for a soccer team from the Kootenays at the games, it does not reflect just how well the boys played over the three-day tournament.
The first game of the round-robin tourney had the locals take on the Thompson-Okanagan team. Nerves were clearly visible in the first half on both sides. The locals carried the balance of play and could have been up were it not for some missed opportunities.
The Kootenay boys found themselves down 1-0 after the first half. However, the boys settled in and played a much stronger second half. The boys scored a goal in the half to finish the game 1-1.
The Kootenay’s second game was against Vancouver Island.
Yuro Ihns, assistant coach for the U12 Kootenay boys team said it was easily one of the more up and down games that he had ever been a part of.
“We came on strong and built a commanding 3-0 lead, only to see it diminish to 3-2 by half time. The boys were clearly nervous, but came out strong again in the second half to build another three goal lead at 5-2.”
But again some costly mistakes let Vancouver Island back in the game and the contest finished as a 5-5 tie.
Two draws gave the squad two points in the round robin, meaning they needed a win in the final game of the round robin against the top-seeded team from Vancouver/Delta.
It ended up being one of the squads best played games.
“We matched up very well against the top seed, and carried a 1-0 lead into the final minutes of play.”
But a hand ball call gave the top-seeded club a late penalty kick, which they capitalized on to tie the score.
“Our team was a little frazzled and in the waning moments of the game a cross went off an opposing header onto one of our defenders back and into the net. We ended up losing 2-1 in the final few minutes. Everyone was stunned and a little sad to say the least,” said Ihns.
Had the locals won any of those first three games, they would have been in the semi-finals and could finish no worse than fourth.
As it was they had to play against the Cariboo team to see if they would battle for fifth and sixth place or seventh and eighth.
The locals dominated the Cariboo, winning the game 4-1, to vault them into a final contest for fifth place.
The Kootenay squad had to play the same Vancouver Island team that came back from three goal deficits twice against them in the round robin.
“The boys came out very determined to not let history repeat itself. We quickly built a 3-0 lead again, when a simple defensive error made it 3-1. This time, however, the Island could not mount another comeback.”
Solid goalkeeping and some great defending protected the lead and the boys won the game, and fifth place, 3-1.
“Although fifth place does not come with a medal, for these boys it really should. All four teams ahead of them play year round,” said Ihns adding those squads are used to constant competition.
“In our case, many of the boys on the team didn’t even meet until the tryouts began a few months before. Normally the Kootenay teams are among the lowest seeded teams at the Summer Games. Instead of an easy win, our opponents were impressed with how well we played and our boys certainly gained a lot of respect.
“They should be very proud of what they have accomplished.”
Ihns also credited head coach Jamie Spendlove.
“Jamie had our boys playing at a much higher level, implementing a system of play that is rarely seen locally.”