The Nelson U13 Selects boys team surprised many by taking home the silver medal in the Provincial B Cup held in Powell River on Sunday.
After winning their group in the three preliminary round games, the boys faced the favoured Prince George Kodiaks in the gold medal final where they lost 2-0.
The U13s — who had to beat Kootenay South in a shootout to even qualify for the provincial championship — were thrown in a difficult preliminary round group that included Kamloops, Coquitlam and Comox Valley.
The first game of the tournament was against Kamloops Blaze, a team that Nelson had faced earlier in the year at a tournament in Kelowna.
Quinn Dawson scored the opening goal of the tournament for Nelson with 10 minutes left in the first half, deking around a defender and beating the Kamloops goaltender at his near post.
Kamloops was given an opportunity to tie the game up just before the half when they were awarded a penalty kick, but Parker Shaw-Lintz made a superb save to give Nelson the slender lead at halftime.
In the second half, Dawson turned provider, threading a pass through two defenders to Bryce Twible who made no mistake to double the Selects’ lead.
Kamloops responded just two minutes later, to provide a tense finale to the game, but Nelson hung on for victory.
“Kamloops had defeated us rather easily 7-2 the last time we met, and we knew they would be a difficult opponent,” said Selects coach Paul Dawson. “Parker’s penalty save was the turning point of the game, and his stop on a Kamloops breakaway earlier in the game was probably the save of the tournament.”
In the second game, Nelson faced Coquitlam, who had earlier tied Comox Valley in their first game.
Nelson came out strong and was rewarded with two goals by the same scorers as the first game. Twible got his second of the tournament 10 minutes into the game to give the Selects the early lead. Fifteen minutes later, Oscar Seagram’s corner came to Guus Lammers who passed to Dawson. Dawson volleyed the ball into the top right corner to give Nelson a two goal lead.
Coquitlam came back strongly and scored two goals of their own to tie the game up at halftime. In the second half, Coquitlam continued their aggressive play and scored two more goals to lead 4-2. Dawson responded with a goal off a pass from Twible to cut the lead to one, but Coquitlam scored just before the end of the game to put the final score at 5-3.
“They were a large and physical team,” said assistant coach Simon Lintz. “Full credit to them for coming back after our early goals.”
Going into the final round-robin game, Nelson knew that they could end up anywhere from first to last in their pool, depending on the result of their game against Comox Valley. Again, the Selects came out blazing and took advantage of a foul by the Island team. Lammers took a free kick that landed in the penalty area. Nigel Ziegler coolly controlled the ball, before turning and lashing it into the top left corner of the net.
Ten minutes later Comox Valley tied up the game, but Nelson came right back with a goal of their own. Dawson powered a strong header over the Comox defenders, sending Darian Johnson in on goal by himself. Johnson took one touch and powered a left footed shot past the helpless keeper. That would prove to be the winner, as the Nelson boys played a strong defensive second half and held on for a 2-1 victory.
By winning their pool, Nelson earned the right to face the unbeaten winner of the other pool, Prince George Kodiaks. Unfortunately, the northern team proved too strong for the Nelson team and with two goals in the first half and a defensive second half, shut down the Nelson attack and resigned the U13 boys to second place.
“It was a little disappointing to fall short at the very end of a long, hard road, but the boys can hold their heads high,” said coach Paul Dawson after the team collected their silver medals in the closing ceremony. “Prince George is a well-coached, tactically sound team and they deserved the victory. The boys gave everything they had for the four days, but in the end, missing five key players for various reasons meant it was always going to be challenging. By the last game, four of our players on the field were playing with injuries, but they continued to fight hard to the final whistle.
“At one point it looked like we might not even be able to attend the provincials, so to win silver against the best teams in BC at this level is a remarkable achievement. We’ve had great support from the parents, the team manager, and the rep coordinators at Nelson Youth Soccer. Having Soccer Quest assist us in development helped us peak at just the right time, and Simon and I are very proud of the boys for what they’ve accomplished this year.”