The Nelson U14 Girls Selects travelled south to Coeur d’Alene to face stiff American competition and came away with solid early season results.
The U14 squad was part of a hearty contingent of Nelson soccer teams that made the trip for the first major rep tournament of the season. The Coeur d’Alene Hot Shot Soccer Tournament is always a stiff test for local teams who match up against top notch US teams.
In the U14s first match on Saturday morning they soundly outplayed the Belgrade Rage Royals from Montana and came away with a 2-1 victory. Emma Wheeldon played a very strong game for the Selects scoring both goals on left footed strikes.
In the afternoon match under very hot conditions, it was another strong outing for the Selects as they battled for a 3-1 win against another strong Montana team.
Amy Hodgson converted a Wheeldon cross into the box for the game’s first goal. After the Montana side found the net to equal the score, the Selects dug deep and came on strong with some fine individual efforts to secure the win. Hodgson took a pass at the top of the 18-yard box, made a quick move to her left and made a brilliant strike off the left post to put Nelson up 2-1.
In another great individual effort, Jesse VanDonsellar made a great run down the left wing but seeing that the play was not there, held onto the ball and played it back. She stayed in the play taking the pass back again from her defender and played in a great pass to Wheeldon who made a great play taking the ball in mid-air and blasting home a drive to the right side past the helpless Montana keeper.
In Sunday’s third game, Wheeldon and Hodgson kept up their scoring streaks. Hodgson opened the scoring with another converted cross for her third goal of the weekend. Wheeldon made it 2-0 shortly after that with a strong individual effort, taking a through ball just past half and charging her way to the net. She blasted a shot past the keeper to put Nelson up 2-0.
The squad from Helena, Montana closed the gap at 2-1 shortly after on a well placed strike from just outside the 18-yard box.
“Ava Strautman made a substantial contribution in this game as the keeper for us,” said Selects assistant coach Pat Hodgson. “She made a stop on a penalty shot late in the first half to keep the Helena team at bay, but they did eventually tie the score. Strautman stood on her head in the second half to maintain the tie and made a diving save late in the game to keep us in it.”
Though putting together a 2-0-1 round robin record, it wasn’t good enough to secure a shot at the medals. But considering the strength of the opposition on the weekend, the coaching staff was pleased with the result.
Team play was the main reason for this weekend’s success,” said Hodgson. “A stellar starting back line led by McKenna Bennett and Megan Tennant stifled opposing strikers all weekend long. Solid midfield play by Maya Ida, Laurel Halleran and Emma Wieland kept control of the game in every match. A strong bench of supporting players also filled in admirably when called upon.”
The offensive output was indicative of how much work the girls have put into their games over the last two seasons in the rep stream.
From a coach’s perspective, this weekends results are the culmination of three years work by this team,” said Hodgson. “Two years ago, we failed to score a goal in our first trip to Coeur d’Alene. Last year we played competitively and came away with a single win. This year was the end result of all that hard work, coming home with an unbeaten record.
“It was especially satisfying as it’s always hard to anticipate how a team will do in their first game action of the season. To see these girls put together so many elements of what they have been training on and see them rewarded for their efforts was very satisfying to watch.”
The next major event for Nelson Selects teams will be the Terry Walgren Tournament on the May 24 to 26 weekend in Nelson.