The Nelson Selects U14 boys took home the silver medal from the Pend Oreille Cup soccer tournament in Sandpoint, Idaho this past weekend.
“It was a great weekend for the boys, and they played really well throughout the tournament,” said coach Lyle Hill.
“This is especially considering it falls right at the end of summer, when the team hasn’t really played for two months and can be a bit rusty. In past years we’ve had some struggles at this event for this reason. But this year, the boys were ready.”
The Nelson squad won both of its round robin games, 3-0 against the Coeur d’Alene Sting and 1-0 against the Spokane Breakers, to win their group and earn entry to the semifinals.
Bradey Sookero and Blake Markin Hellekson split the goaltending duties and earned the goose eggs for both games.
“As usual, our defence was strong, led by Jesse Thurston, Jahmal Truth-Verville, Luka Eyre, Jacob Erickson and Aidan Mushumanski,” said coach Kerry Dyck.
“Combined with solid goaltending, this has been a strength of ours all year.”
Goals in the games were scored by Ernesto Archambault, Milo Baranyai Sheppard and Angus Patterson (with two).
In the semifinal, the team was pitted against another Spokane team.
“The boys played very strong in that game, dominating the play and the ball, and generating at least a dozen good scoring chances to effectively none for the other team,” said Dyck.
Unfortunately, the team was snake bitten around goal that game, and failed to find the net, leaving the scored tied 0-0 at the end of the game, leading to a shootout. Fortunately, the locals came through with Jesse Thurston, Ezra Foy, Josh Yasek and Grayson Hill netting for Nelson, and keeper Bradey Sookero coming up with a couple big saves.
This got the team through to the gold medal final, and a rematch with the Spokane Breakers.
“This didn’t surprise me,” said coach Hill, “I thought they were definitely the strongest of any other team we saw at the tournament.”
It was an exciting, tight, hard fought game, which — unfortunately for the Nelson squad — Spokane won, with a late goal, seven minutes from full time.
“We suffered a few injuries through the course of the weekend, losing a number of players, and at one point in the final, we had six injured players and only one sub available,” said Dyck.
“That took its toll, and by the second half of the final, you could just see our boys start to run out of gas. They played their hearts out though, and Lyle and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
The coaches singled out the play of the midfield of Ezra Foy, Grayson Hill and Jaden Dyck.
“They’ve lead our team all year, and it was the same this weekend also, as those three were superb, and allowed us to control the games a majority of the time.”