For a team that almost didn’t even happen, the Nelson Selects U18 boys squad showed over the weekend that the effort to piece together a team was worth it.
Back in April there was not going to be a U18 team because the small group of dedicated soccer players were not enough to form a side. A huge efforts from U18 player Harley Martin pulled together a group of guys that could compete at a high level.
“Now we are at mid-season and during practice they come together and laugh and joke amongst themselves while they effortlessly juggle the ball with each other,” said U18 coach Luc Vreys. “At game time they come together as an amazingly talented group of young men who work so well together as a team that they appear to be just one united force.”
“I would never want to play against these guys.”
In the regional playdowns to determine the squad that will represent the Kootenays in next month’s Provincial B Cup, the U18s hit the mark.
Earlier this month the route to the provincials started with a game against Kootenay South where the Selects asserted themselves with a 5-0 victory.
Under rainy conditions this past Saturday morning, the Selects matched up against Columbia Valley. A win would get the U18s to the provincials.
Nelson’s Luis Loeschnik opened the scoring early for Nelson on a breakaway.
A significantly sized and tactfully defensive Invermere team came on strong near the end of the first half, against the wind, but many of their shots just missed the net. On the quality chances they managed to direct on net, Nelson goalie Andrew Woodward came up solid.
Nelson took a 2-0 lead early in the second half on a nice individual effort by striker Mitchell Melanson.
“The skilful mastery of the game and the trust between the team members resulted in the nicest goal of the game which came from a three-way, multiple time, give and go between Mitch Melanson, Simon Baranyai-Sheppard with Caique Braga finishing the play with a beautiful header from five metres out to put Nelson up 3-0,” said Vreys.
Nelson’s fourth goal was scored by Adam Grace, on a penalty kick resulting from Nelson’s Loeschnik, being taken down by the Invermere goalie.
Columbia Valley responded with their only goal of the game which was notched with a shot off the left post of Woodward, but at that point the game was out of reach at 4-1 late in the second half.
The coaching staff was impressed with the Selects consistently solid back line of Jef Vreys, Bruno Moro, Mitch McCallum and Grace. Coaches also gave credit to the midfield movement supplied by Linden Horswill, Eric Stephenson and Gabe Cayer.
The forwards that helped fuel the two victories included Martin, Joren Johnson, Carsen Willans and Simon Baranyai-Sheppard.
The Provincial B Cup takes place in Aldergrove July 5 to 8.
U16 BOYS ALSO EARN REGIONAL TITLE
A pair of wins against Kootenay South has given the Nelson Selects U16 boys team a chance to compete for Provincial B Cup gold next month.
With only two teams vying for the Kootenay berth, it was between Nelson and the club made up from players who live in Trail, Fruitvale, Rossland and Castlegar to see who would represent the region in Aldergrove in early July.
In the first game at Lakeside pitch, it was the home side who dominated from the opening whistle.
Ryan Lewis opened the scoring on a well placed free kick early in the game. Walker-Mourer Dempster then notched an impressive goal from far outside the 18-yard box minutes later. Ethan Perkins and Justin Willness each converted to give Nelson a very comfortable lead. Lewis also scored again on another free kick catching the Kootenay south goaltender off guard to make the final 5-0.
In the second game, Nelson travelled to Castlegar on Sunday and faced a different Kootenay South team.
Lewis managed to score with the Nelson side down one player from a foul resulting in a player having to leave the field. Kootenay South then scored later to tie the game which ended in a 1-1 draw.
“Our hat is off to Kootenay South for giving us a good game and recovering after their loss on Saturday,” said U16 coach Scott Lewis. “It was a good reminder that we have to remain focused at all times.”
The U16 Selects are off to Cranbrook this weekend for a tournament and more preparation for the provincial run.