It may have been bittersweet, but Oceanside’s Honey Badgers girls soccer team have to feel great about their game after clawing out a silver medal on the pitches in Nanaimo at the area’s U16-18 girls year-end play downs.
A dangerous team for the past three seasons — Oceanside went into the tournament as two-time defending playoff champions — the locals opened the tourney Sat., March 10 at Serauxman field.
According to Oceanside skipper Mike Watson last seed Tropicana played their best game of the season and held his seocnd-seeded squad scoreless in the first half.
Hard charging Honey Badger Carmina Rocheleau scored what would stand up to be the winner midway through the second half.
Later., the Honey Badgers took a bite out of the Nanaimo Sharks, 3-1.
Down a goal to start the second half, Oceanside started pressing and were rewarded 15 minutes in when Gaby Hebert made good on a penalty kick after being pulled down in the goal box.
Hebert caught the Sharks off guard and scored again five minutes later on a breakaway to give her team the lead.
Nanaimo countered and pressed hard, but Honey Badger keeper Emily Towers was solid.
Lexi Berg sealed the win when she fed the net with about four minutes remaining.
That win put Oceanside in the gold medal game on March 11 against the Nanaimo Renegades.
Played out under cloudy skies and light rain at Merle Logan Field, “the teams were very evenly matched,” said Watson.
Nanaimo opened the scoring at about the 20 minute mark. The Renegades came out hard to start the second half but were stonewalled in large part to defenseman and team captain Val Watson “and her unbelievable efforts.”
Hebert scored at one point and the locals thought they’d tied it only to have it waved off when it was deemed offside.
The Honey Badgers refused to roll over and came within a whisker of scoring with about a minute to go.
“The ball rolled along the goal line but nobody could get a foot on it and that was the game,” said Watson, who has decided to hang up the coaching cleats.
“This group of girls has done very well in the last three years,” he said, then conceded “it was so close to a three-peat you could taste it.”