Though they barely missed qualifying for the upcoming Provincial B Cup, the Nelson U14 Selects girls team came away with some consolation at their last tournament of the spring season by taking gold.
Joining a raft of other Nelson rep teams, the U14s headed to the East Kootenay to take part in the annual Sam Steele Days tournament.
In the U14s’ first game of the tournament it was Hailee Gerun and Sage Wilton notching markers as Nelson topped the host Cranbrook Rovers 2-0.
In the second game of the round robin Nelson was matched against the Calgary Villains. Gerun scored the lone goal to pace the U14s to a 1-0 victory.
The two wins gave Nelson first place in its pool, setting up a semi-final match against Columbia Valley on Sunday morning. A scoreless draw had to be decided in shootout with Abby Willans, Gerun and Wilton giving Nelson the 3-1 shootout edge.
The final featured Nelson against their rivals, Kootenay South (Trail, Fruitvale, Castlegar, Rossland).
Nelson opened the scoring off the hot foot of Gerun who gave her team a 1-0 lead. In the second half Emma Schrader passed a beautiful ball across the front of the net to Paige LeFranc who nicely placed the ball in the net.
Nelson hung on to win the game 2-0 and capture the gold medal.
The U14 coaches gave special credit to the defensive line — Jena Wheeldon, Taylor Wilson, Willans, Tara Yowek, and Danielle Zak — who played extremely well as they have done all season long.
The Nelson U14 Selects boys side proved once again that they are the top team in the Kootenay region after going 4-0 at Sam Steele Days.
“We faced all the teams we played at [provincial] playdowns last week plus one,” said coach Dan Szabo. “And while it was more important to get through it without injury and focus on the upcoming provincials, we still had to compete. We weren’t going to take the weekend off.”
Nelson opened the weekend with a 6-0 win over the Creston Blitzz on Saturday morning.
Micah May opened the scoring midway through the first half, running on to a James Miller pass and converting. Nicholas Wethal would add one minutes later jumping on a well placed corner kick and Galen Boulanger netted one a little after that.
In the second half Boulanger would score his second with a 30-yard blast. May finished the scoring with his second and third of the match.
Game two Saturday afternoon the Selects faced a determined Kootenay South side and hung on for a 2-1 victory.
“We were flat against a team we perhaps took too lightly, one we have beaten quite handily in the past and didn’t bring our best game,” said Szabo. “Credit to Kootenay South, they came to play.”
Nolan Percival opened the scoring 20 minutes in poking home a cross pass. Kootenay South countered as Nelson backed up in a scramble and got a little flat footed in their box just before the half time whistle. May restored the lead two minutes into the second half and would have had another while on a breakaway but the ref blew the final whistle just as he was shooting.
Game three saw Nelson get back on track and control most of the play in a solid 3-0 defeat of Kootenay East.
Boulanger from a lovely feed from May scored the first goal with a minute left in the first half. He would add another in the second six minutes into the second. Four minutes later Spencer Szabo sent a perfect through ball for May on the left side who made no mistake hammering it home.
Boulanger in the fourth and final game Sunday afternoon would continue his breakout weekend with both goals in a tough, physical 2-1 win over Columbia Valley to claim the gold.
The first goal came at the nine minute mark as Boulanger rolled one past the Columbia Valley keeper. Midway through the first half Columbia Valley countered. Early in the second half, Boulanger scored the winner, hitting the top left corner with a well-placed ball.
The U14 boys are now preparing for the Provincial B Cup in Penticton at the start of July.