The Nelson Selects U14 girls soccer squad shook off the winter rust at the annual Kelowna Icebreaker tournament over the Easter weekend and brought home a silver medal.
The Selects put together a 2-1 record in the round robin to earn a spot in the gold medal final where they lost 2-1 in a heartbreaker to Okanagan Mission #2.
“The teams we played in this tournament have been practicing together as a unit for several months and were from much larger associations,” said U14 coach Paul Burkart. “Though most of our girls have spent the winter honing their skills indoors, we have not had much time to work together as a team. I’m very proud of the effort and pleased with the outcome in Kelowna.”
Nelson came out of the blocks strong on Friday in their opening contest against the Edmonton West Raiders. Jodi Surina and Shaen Panko-Dool scored in the first half to give the Selects a 2-0 lead. Midway through the second half, Mattea Lorenzo Langevin salted away a Panko-Dool rebound to give Nelson a 3-0 win.
Keeper Hannah Quinn and defenders Emily Taylor, Julia Burkart, Allison Bendis, Bella Guderyan, Ashley Hall and Anna Milde did an excellent job of controlling the backfield allowing Quinn to come away with the shutout.
“That was a pretty great start, but more impressive than the score was the possession game the girls played,” said Burkart. “That is the style of game we will continue to work on over the season.”
The Selects carried the momentum into their Saturday morning game against Okanagan Mission #1, when Surina scored five minutes into the first half thanks to a pretty pass from Shianne Michalchuk. The opposition got that one back before the end of the half on a penalty kick.
Missing two of their key players due to illness, Nelson fought hard in the second half and goalkeeper Guderyan came up with some big saves to preserve the tie. The format of the tournament required immediate penalty kicks to determine a winner so the game went into a shootout. All five Selects’ shooters scored—Taylor, Grace Dehnel, Sophia Arcuri, Michalchuk and Surina—and Guderyan made the shootout’s only save to secure the victory.
In the team’s second game of the day against the Kelowna Eagles, Nelson again jumped out to an early lead when Panko-Dool converted a nice pass from Haley Slomba. Before the end of the half Kelowna tied the game and it would stay that way until the end of regulation. In their second shootout of the day, Nelson did not come away with the same result and had to swallow the 2-1 loss.
In the gold medal game Nelson continued its streak of scoring first when Surina notched her third goal of the tournament pouncing on a penalty kick rebound off the foot of Taylor. The lead would last only a few minutes as Okanagan Mission #2 scored on a scramble to tie the game 1-1.
Midway through the second half, a foul just outside the 18-yard box provided Okanagan Mission #2 with the chance they needed in an extremely tight contest. The free kick sailed over the head of an outstretched Quinn to give the eventual champions the 2-1 lead, which they would hold despite a spirited push by Nelson late in the half.
“We found ourselves in some foul trouble at various times during our games that cost us some key goals. The girls were disappointed to lose, but this weekend was about learning, and to earn a hard fought silver medal was a great way to start what I am predicting to be a great season,” said Burkart.
“There is plenty of soccer left to play this season and our ultimate goal is earning a spot in the provincials.”
Next up for the U14 Selects Girls side is the Couer D’Alene tournament in early May. All Nelson Youth Soccer boys and girls rep teams will host the Annual Terry Walgren Tournament on the May 23 weekend. Provincial playdowns take place in mid-June with the Kootenay champions heading to the Provincial B Cup in the first week of July.