Of the ten eligible soccer teams from Nelson, eight have qualified to compete in upcoming provincial championships.
“I always tell the kids the hard part is getting there. Once you’re there, go in and enjoy it,” said Nelson Youth Soccer technical director Brett Adams.
A number of teams travelled to competitions this weekend, and those who emerged victorious can continue their streak. The two teams to miss the cut were the U-16 and U-18 boys.
“Obviously we’d like to take everyone,” Adams said. “It was the last chance for the older boys, so that would’ve been nice. And the U-16 boys ended up playing with 10 players because of all the injuries they sustained. You just got to feel for them, because they gave everything they could.”
Adams said the U-13 boys went to Cranbrook for playdowns and were successful in both games. The U-13, U-14 and U-15 girls qualified automatically because Nelson is hosting provincials July 9-12 in those age groups. The U-18 girls received an automatic berth to provincials because no other teams contested their spot.
“The U-14 boys were in a quite tough, competitive game. They played against Kootenay South and it was a really tight game, 2-2 for a long time, but they won 5-2.”
He said he’s particularly pleased with this result because the boys were able to defeat the team that denied them a provincial spot last year.
“To come back stronger and reverse what happened? I’m really proud.”
Adams also gave a shout-out to coaches Tony Marzicola and Grant Anderson, saying they worked hard to structure the team this season.
The U-15 boys also qualified automatically.
The U-16 girls travelled to Invermere, and staged an amazing comeback in one of their games. Trailing 3-0 near the half, Laurel Halleran scored with one minute left to give the team life.
“They came in and won 7-3. It was a huge turnaround. They went out there and completely did the area proud, put their bodies on the line for the team.”
Taylor Zimmer scored three of those goals.
“For a midfielder to do that, step up and say ‘I’m going to change the game here’, is amazing. She deserves special credit,” Adams said.
The U-18 boys battled Columbia Valley, ultimately losing 4-1.
Columbia Valley opened the scoring eight minutes into the match. Nolan Percival tied it up in the 29th minute on a blast from a distance.
“Nelson played a good possession game and had many opportunities to score in the first 45 minutes but it would be 1-1 at the half,” said coach Dan Szabo.
Columbia Valley came out strong in the second and restored their lead in the 52nd minute.
“They kept the pressure up and scored a couple more for the 4-1 win,” Szabo said.
Nelson, with only 12 players to begin with, lost goalkeeper Darian Johnson in the 87th minute due to a hip injury following a collision.
Provincials for the U-13, U-14 and U-15 girls will be held at Lakeside fields from July 9 to 12. The U-13, U-14 and U-15 boys will travel to 100 Mile. The U-16, U-17 and U-18 players will compete in Penticton.