The Kootenay Thunder — Soccer Quest’s regional girls soccer team — travelled to Seattle over the weekend, returning with impressive results and interest from American college scouts.
The team is comprised of the best high school-aged soccer players in the Kootenays, under the leadership of Soccer Quest’s Dave Spendlove. It was the team’s second trip to the annual Starfire Fieldturf Showcase which features the best female sides from all over the northwest United States and British Columbia. The tournament attracted more than 40 scouts from US schools.
The Thunder were seeded in the top group of four groups in the weekend event.
The Thunder opened the game against the Seattle Legacy where they played to a 0-0 draw.
“We outplayed the Legacy team in all departments but could not get the ball in the net,” said Spendlove. “This would set the theme for the weekend.”
Saturday morning the Thunder played Semiahmoo Scorpions from Vancouver and again competed in a very tight game that ended in a 0-0 tie.
The second Saturday game had the Thunder up against the top seeded Sun City Strikers from Yakima who had yet to lose a game in the tournament.
“We came out strong in the first half and played our best soccer in the two year history of the team,” said Spendlove.
“A very physical Sun City team could not keep up with the movement off the ball of the girls.”
The first half ended with the Thunder up 1-0 thanks to a great strike from newcomer Kelsey Martin from a corner that had only been half cleared by the Sun City defense to the top of the box.
The first 15 minutes of the second half was all hands to the pump as Sun City piled on the pressure looking for an equalizer which they got after 10 minutes in.
The Thunder came back and again took control with Nelson’s Paige Mansveld and Martin running the show in central midfield. Nelson’s Andrea Stinson — who was a thorn in every team’s defense over the weekend — then got the ball, beat two players and was brought down in the box for a penalty which she took and squeaked in the bottom corner. The Thunder hung on for the 2-1 victory.
Sunday morning had the Thunder up against another very good team, MRFC from Portland.
With the rain going sideways, the Thunder again controlled the game with Nelson’s Brittany Wheeler playing a very impressive right back position overlapping at every opportunity and getting the ball into the box.
The difference in the game ended up being a free kick right in front of the Thunder goal which gave the Portland side the 1-0 win.
“The team impressed many coaches and teams with one US college coach stating he would take the whole squad if he had the budget,” said Spendlove.
Next trip up for the Thunder girls will be the Vancouver Whitecaps Showcase. event in March.