The quest for the provincials has come to an end for the Ballenas Whalers Sr. Girls Soccer team after they missed out on advancing in the Island tournament.
The Whalers finished third in their pool, not advancing to the game for the third and final seed to go to the provincials. The team battled hard but ran out of steam before making the provincials for a second year in a row.
“We started off real well in the Islands, beating Gulf Islands in our first game,” head coach Larry Stefanek said. “The girls came out looking solid and played a good team game that first game, so that was a positive sign right off the bat.”
Ballenas beat Gulf Islands 3–1 in their opening game of the Islands, with Emily Robertson potting two goals and Sophie Palmer netting one, leading the charge for the Whalers on offense. It was another solid game defensively for the back line of Heavenly Brock, Olivia Friesen, Bronwyn Kirk and Tianna Squire.
Their second game of the tournament proved to be more of a challenge as the Whalers faced off against NDSS. Finding themselves down 1–0 at the half, Sophie Palmer found the back of the net early in the second half to knot it up at 1–1. That’s when the Whalers ran in to some trouble.
“One of our girls ended up getting a second yellow card, which resulted in the red to send her off and it was on a penalty in the box to boot,” Stefanek said. “So NDSS scores on that one and now we’re down to just 10 players, which can be a bit of a problem for teams.”
With the Whalers down a goal and down players, the team rose to the challenge and battled back, but NDSS managed to score one more to make it a 3–1 game. The Whalers never quit and it was Emily Robertson putting the ball past the NDSS with time running down. Ballenas kept the pressure up the entire time, coming close to tying the game but time ran out on the Whalers and they dropped their second game 3–2.
“We played really hard and the girls never quit,” Stefanek said. “They showed great determination with 10 of them on the field and it was nice to see them come together like that with it all on the line.”
The Whalers needed a win in their third game to advance but ran up against a Lambrick Park team that boasted the top scorer in the Island tournament. In the end, it was too much for the Whalers, as they dropped a 5–1 decision, which brought an end to their season.
“The last game was a tough one. It’s one of those games where the girls played real well but weren’t getting any bounces,” Stefanek said. “We hit the crossbar a couple times and their goalie came up with huge saves. One or two bounces our way and it would have been a different game. But the girls had a great season and I’m proud of them for the way they battled.”