An undefeated season concluded the only way it could for the L.V. Rogers girls soccer team — with a provincial championship.
The Bombers survived a penalty shootout to defeat Burnaby’s St. Thomas More Knights 2-1 in the gold-medal final at the BC High School Girls AA Soccer championships in Campbell River on Saturday.
Maya Ida scored the winning goal on the seventh shot of the shootout and Naomi Perkins scored in regulation as the Bombers won the provincial title for the first time since taking back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998, respectively.
Perkins was named tournament MVP and awarded the Golden Boot for scoring 10 goals during the tournament.
“They knew they were a special team all year long …,” said coach Chuck Bennett. “We knew we had a good team, but to actually get to the final and win the final is a big undertaking. You need so many things. You need so much luck, you need so many things to go your way, and to see it all the way through, it was brilliant. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
It’s the second provincial title for Nelson’s high school in a week after the senior boys rugby team won gold on May 28.
LVR was under pressure early. The Knights scored on a free kick under 10 minutes into the game, putting the Bombers in the rare spot of having to play from behind.
The Bombers tied the game before the half was over on a corner kick. Laurel Halleran found Perkins, who fired the ball off her left foot to beat the opposing keeper in the far corner.
That set up a rollicking final 40 minutes after the break.
“The second half was just a battle,” said Bennett. “Not a in terms of physically, but they’d get a chance, we’d get a chance. It was well played. They’re a good team, we’re a good team. It was real, real good soccer.”
Bennett credited goalkeeper Hanna Quinn with keeping her team alive.
“She was spectacular. We gave up a few more corners, [and] we went from not getting anything on the corners to [Quinn] getting a hand on every one. She punched them away, she got enough of them that [the Knights] couldn’t get any kind of offence.”
Quinn’s best save came in the dying minutes of regulation. The Knights strong midfield fired a shot that Quinn had to leap across the width of the goal to get a hand on and keep LVR alive .
Perkins, meanwhile, had to leave the game briefly after suffering a head injury fighting for a ball in the air. She was assessed by a physio on the sidelines and told she could return to play, which she did for extra time.
A scoreless extra time meant penalties for both teams. On the fifth shooter, the Knights had a chance to win but their shooter hit the crossbar. Two shooters later, Ida put the Bombers ahead on a shot to the top corner.
Quinn then guessed right, with a terrific save to deny the Knights and seal the Bombers’ title.
“The place went nuts,” said Bennett. “Everybody was rooting for us. Everybody in the tournament just seemed to love LVR. It was a crazy experience. The place went nuts. The kids went nuts. It’s a terrible way to lose a final, but man, what a way to win.”