Ballenas Whalers senior high school girls soccer team fell short of winning the Vancouver Island AA Senior Girls Championships but are still celebrating, as they qualified to play at the provincial championships in Campbell River.
The Whalers took on a strong Carihi Tyees team from Campbell River in the final that was held in Duncan on May 14.
Prior to the final, the Tyees had won the Vancouver Island title three years in a row. They clinched their fourth successive crown when they blanked the Whalers 2-0.
It was a close final. The Whalers battled the Tyees in a scoreless first half that was evenly contested. The Whalers had two good scoring chances but could not cash in against a well-organized and tough Carihi defence.
In the second half, the Tyees found the back of the net first. Kaitlyn Dreger, outside of the 18, scored a long-range strike that soared above everyone’s head into the net. Late in the game, they scored a second goal that was controversial but counted, making it to much for the Whalers to come back.
“It was an excellent final with both teams playing some nice possession soccer and defending well,” said Whalers head coach Larry Stefanek.
In reaching the final, the Whalers overcame some challenging matches. They took on Brooks T-Birds first and scored a narrow 2-1 win. The Whalers had umpteen chances to score but were not able to convert against a strong T-Birds side that were dangerous on the counter-attack with their speed. Scorers for the Whalers were Jayme Scollon and Casey Reumkens. Leticia Moody earned the win in goal.
The Whalers suffered their first setback when they got edged by St. Michael’s University School 1-0. After a scoreless first half, the Whalers elevated their game in the second half and dominated, creating four good scoring chances but could not find the net. SMUS was able to score a long range shot into the top corner for what turned out to be the winning goal. Stefanek said the Whalers were unfortunate to lose as they clearly outplayed their opponents.
In a battle for top spot in their pool and for a berth in the final, the Whalers played a solid game to shut out Shawnigan Lake 3-0. Nicole Bolger scored the first goal in the first half off an excellent build up by the Whalers and great cross by Scollon.
Captain Jules Clark netter a brilliant second goal with her left foot from outside the penalty area and Scollon added a third late goal on a scramble in the box.
The win advanced the Whalers to the final against Tyee, Ballenas’s first Island final since they won the title in 2011.
Ballenas also secured one of the four berths from the Island to the AA provincials hosted by Carihi May 30 to June 1.
Stefanek said that the Whalers will be sharpening some of the weak points of their game leading up to the provincials.
“The Whalers will focus on team shape and moving as units on the field,” said Stefanek.
The Whalers will be making their fifth high school provincials appearance in the last 10 seasons and have been close on two other occasions. Stefanek said it’s an impressive stat for the Parksville school.