Stick a fork in ‘em — they’re done.
Kwalikum Secondary School’s senior boys soccer team left it all on the field this week and the Kondors capped off what has been a memorable campaign with three wins, a loss and a tie at the BC High School Sports’ AA provincial championships.
With no returning ‘stars’ from last year, KSS was given little chance to contend at the start of the season, but the locals showed a lot of grit as they rallied to win a wild card spot to the Island finals a few weeks back, then upset Gulf Islands with a buzzer-beater in what was their 10th game in nine days to advance to the B.C.s.
In action on the all-weather turf pitches of Burnaby Lake Sports Complex, Kwalikum opened the tourney Monday morning with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against the fired-up hometown Cariboo Hill Chargers.
The locals shook it off and went unbeaten their final two days of the tournament, as they bounced back Tuesday swamping the Lakers from Invermere 4-buz in the morning game, then burning the SMU Blue Devils 2-0 that afternoon.
“Ninth sounds pretty bad but we were 12 minutes away from finishing first in our pool,” KSS head coach Butch Gayton grumbled Thursday, then explained how his side was up 2-1 against the Scorpions with 12 minutes remaining but let it slip away.
“Talk about 12 minutes you’d like to have back … we hang on to win that game we finish first in our pool, but we didn’t, and the cruelty of pool play is we finished third,” he said, which dropped them to the bottom bracket where the best they could do is ninth.
KSS closed it out Wednesday with a solid 4-1 win over the defending B.C. champion Sa-Hali Sabres from Kamloops.
Kwalikum went into the tournament missing two starters — right back Adam Simpson was out with a broken tailbone suffered at the Island’s (he’s on the mend), and their top scorer, exchange student Andreas Zehrer “was away on a Rotary function …”
“It was a long season,” Gayton agreed, pointing out, “the whole tournament — five games in three days — it was a battle of attrition, and our depth paid off.”
Going into the final game on Wednesday KSS had two players tied for the lead as the tournament’s top scorer with four goals apiece. Grade 10 striker Darian Atkinson, and Grade 11 outside middy Ben Robson — and both jostling for the coveted Golden Boot Award.
Robson ran away with the tournament scoring title with four goals in the final game. Interestingly enough there were two great feeds from Darian that game.
KWALIKUM SOCCER has been around a while, and Gayton pointed out that according to the pamphlets handed out, in the history of the tournament, which dates back to 1993, there is only one team that has had more appliances than KSS.
SMU has the most provincial appearances at 13, and KSS has tied with Lambrick Park for second on the all-time list with 11 trips to the big AA dance.
“Which I think is pretty spectacular considering our size,” Gayton surmised proudly, paused, then made the point “and with nine returning players, we’re looking forward to next year.”