Montanna Mosher was so disgusted with her kicking in the first half of Tuesday’s soccer match that she joked with her Kwalikum Secondary School teammates at halftime that she should be nicknamed “Peg-leg”.
Moments later, though, she successfully converted the game’s biggest kick, scoring on a rebound from seven yards out in the 43rd minute to lift the Kondors to a 1-0 AA Senior Girls win over visiting Nanaimo District Secondary School.
“I’m just a hockey player,” said Mosher, a AAA girls midget skater who played goalkeeper in the team’s first two games, including a 2-0 loss to the same Nanaimo squad. “I felt like I couldn’t kick at all today, but I guess Peg-leg came through at the right time.”
Ana Franco-Costales, a Grade 11 exchange student from Spain, earned the shutout in just her second career game in net. The keeper stepped in for Mosher two weeks ago against Dover Bay, a AAA program that competes a level above the AA Kondors (2-2).
Although she had some highlight-worthy saves in that contest, Dover Bay rolled to a 5-2 win.
“This game made me feel more confident,” Franco-Costales said Tuesday. “Just practising more at it helped a lot. I like it, but I’m still kind of nervous (in goal).”
Kwalikum coach Ruth Stefanek said her young squad did its best job yet in controlling the ball and the run of play. But there were a few hiccups when players got caught out of position and Nanaimo turned the tables.
“Ana had a bit of action at those times,” Stefanek deadpanned.
The Kondors, who will travel next Tuesday for a non-league rematch with Dover Bay in Nanaimo, now wait to hear their fate for the postseason, which has been thrown into question by the withdrawal of Nanaimo’s Wellington Secondary.
Ballenas Secondary of Parksville also had to suspend its Senior Girls program this spring due to low numbers.
Kwalikum had signed on to host the North Island Championships May 9-10, anticipating getting one of the two playoff berths in its three-team division. But with Wellington having folded its senior girls program last week, only Kwalikum and NDSS remain in the division, and Stefanek was not sure whether both teams would advance.
“This win was important, because I believe we have the better team,” the coach said. “It helped that we had our centre-back (Larissa Stefanek) back for this game, and both of our Grade 8s, Catalina Magana and Olivia Williams, have come up and done a great job.”
Larissa Stefanek, a Grade 12 veteran, felt Nanaimo’s earlier win over the Kondors was aided by some “fluky” goals. But she admitted her Kwalikum squad played much stronger in the rematch.
“I think we’ve improved a lot, just playing together more,” she said. “We did better at passing, and we pushed out of the back a lot faster.”
After a scoreless first half, the Kondors got on the board on their first rush of the second half. Charlotte Palmer collected a pass on a run-in from the right wing and launched a 15-yard shot that caromed off the face of Nanaimo’s Taylor Olsen and bounced to the far side of the net.
A clutch of players from both teams scrambled for the ball, and Kwalikum’s Reece Koch managed to chip it back in front of the net, where Mosher was waiting to boot it from left to right past both the Islanders’ goalie and a teammate that had rushed to the goal line to help.
“There was kind of a scrum there, and the ball just came right to me,” said Mosher a Grade 12 student. “I just kicked it in. I was in the right place at the right time.”
And after the game, coach Stefanek declared the play was worthy of burying Mosher’s self-imposed nickname.
“Your name’s Montanna now,” Stefanek said.