The Nelson Selects U15 boys took part in Kootenay South’s inaugural Eye of the Storm soccer tournament this past weekend in Castlegar, capturing gold playing up in the U16 age division.
“It was a very challenging weekend for us,” said coach Kerry Dyck, “due to the number of players that we had missing with injuries or other commitments.
“We were definitely undermanned most of the way. At one point, we had to put a player, Grayson Hill, with a badly pulled quadricep, and who couldn’t run, onto the field for an entire game, just to get to 11 men and not be shorthanded.
“It was very courteous effort from him. And it wasn’t just diminished numbers that adversely affected us. Some of the players we were missing were very important, key members of the team, that we sorely missed.”
As a result, the team struggled in the early stages of the tournament, just doing enough to qualify for Sunday’s final.
However, the boys saved their best for last, bolstered by the return to the lineup of three important players (Ezra Foy, Josh Yasek and Blake Markin-Hellekson) for the gold medal game. In the final, against their Nelson Selects U16 counterparts, the boys stepped up their game, winning 5-3.
“I was really pleased, not only with the result, but the way we played. After a lull of not playing a good possession style in the past few weeks, the boys rediscovered their form that had made them successful in the spring. We played a nice passing, build up style of soccer, and that led us to success,” added Dyck. “Also, it was great having our starting keeper, Bradey Sookero, back in the net, after missing him last weekend. He was especially strong in the final, earning the player of the game nod from the other team.”
Other player of the game awards, as selected by the other team, went to Jaden Dyck and Aidan Mushumanski, who the coaches noted both led the team with strong tournaments.
Goal scorers in the tournament for the U15 boys were Thomas Baxter, Jaden Dyck, Blake Markin-Hellekson and Josh Yasek.
“And, as usual, the unsung heroes, often overlooked, are the defense, Jacob Erickson and Liam Jones at fullback, led by Jesse Thurston and Jahmal Truth-Verville at center back,” said Dyck.
“Even though it was a small tournament, with only local teams, I was very proud of the effort and result, given the adversity the boys had to overcome to achieve it, and that we were playing up an age.
“In fact, this was the third tournament this season where we had to play up at U16, and in those three events we came away with one silver medal and two golds. I think the boys can be very proud of that. All in all, it was a great way to end the season.”