The Nelson Selects U14 girls squad capped a winning season with a silver medal finish at last week’s Provincial B Cup tournament, the first provincial medal for this community since 2002.
Battling tough competition and high temperatures, the Nelson squad placed first in Group B during round robin play to earn a trip to the gold medal match.
In the first game of the tournament, Nelson faced the Coastal #2 champions, SurDel United (Surrey-Delta). With less than five minutes played, SurDel scored from a free kick just outside the penalty area to take a 1-0 lead. Despite numerous scoring opportunities, Nelson was unable to answer back and SurDel won the game 1-0.
On Friday, Nelson faced the Quesnel Strikers representing Cariboo North. Nelson returned to the strong play they showed in the Kootenay playdowns with Darian Voisard opening up the scoring with a goal half way through the first half. Bronwyn Sutherland found the back of the net seven minutes later to give Nelson a 2-0 lead that would hold until the break. Ten minutes into the second half, Naomi Perkins added a marker to make the score 3-0 which would hold until the end of regulation time.
In the last game of round robin play, Nelson faced another of the Coastal Cup semi-finalists, the Tsawwassen Blues who only the day previous beat their coastal rivals, SurDel United. At the fifteenth minute, Tsawwassen scored from a penalty kick to take the early lead. Undeterred, Nelson answered eight minutes later with a goal from Voisard to take the game to a 1-1 draw which would stand at the half. After the break, the Selects continued to attack and Perkins scored the go ahead goal at minute 13 to give Nelson a 2-1 lead. Near the end of regulation time, Voisard found the back of the net one more time to take the score to 3-1 which would stand to the end of the game.
At the conclusion of round robin play, the Nelson Selects and Tsawwassen were tied for first place in Group B. However, by defeating Tsawwassen, the Nelson squad — who also had the best scoring differential of the Group B teams — secured first place and earned a trip to the gold medal match against the winner of Group A.
The U14 provincial final had the Selects facing the Coastal Cup and defending provincial champion Powell River Cobras.
Under extreme heat conditions and against a very talented and hard working squad, Nelson played courageously but found themselves down by a score of 3 0 at the half. The second half was hard fought at both ends of the pitch, but Powell River scored two more unanswered goals for a final score of 5-0.
“Powell River simply took advantage of the opportunities they had scoring three goals in scrambles around the goal and two others with long shots that squeezed between the cross bar,” said U14 co-coach Paul Burkart.
The Nelson U14 girls not only represented the Kootenay region well in their physical play, but they also did so in how they played. This was reinforced when a BC Soccer representative awarded the Nelson squad with the division Fairplay Award which was voted on by tournament officials.
“Winning silver at the Provincial B Cup is an enormous achievement,” said Burkart.
“After losing their first game, this team could have just given up. Instead they came back and played two terrific games which earned them a place in the finals.
“This squad is a team in every sense of the word with rock solid goalkeeper and defenders, courageous midfielders and relentless strikers all worked together to make this season such a success.”
The U14 girls played a total of six tournaments this season and brought home three gold and two silver medals. As the 2012 season progressed, it was apparent that the Nelson U14 girls could place well at the provincials and they did not disappoint.
“And the best part for us is that they did it with such class, and such a great attitude, both on and off the field,” said U14 co-coach Pat Perkins. “They are such good friends and this will be an experience they will share for the rest of their lives.”