Oceanside’s Rebels’ U12 girls soccer team capped off a great campaign down-Island recently by defending their tournament title at the annual Gordon Head Jamboree in a battle of attrition that came down to a tie-breaker.
“This is a tournament that we won last year but were up against tougher competition this year,” said Rebels’ coach John Lee, a longtime local Men’s player himself.
He said the Rebels played four games at the big annual tourney in the competitive division against the best U12 girls teams on Vancouver Island “and played our way to the title for the second consecutive year.”
After finishing their final season at Super 8 (eight a side soccer) by wining the year-end playdowns, this tournament was the first chance for all of these teams to play the traditional 11 a side on a full-size field.
Oceanside, which penciled in 10 returning players and five rookies this year, opened the tourney early Saturday morning with a hard-fought 1-nil win over their local rivals, the Nanaimo Green Extreme.
The game was deadlocked in a scoreless tie until standout midfielder Makayla Hoey scored the game-winning goal by when she chipped the ball in just over the Nanaimo keeper off a corner kick.
Game two against the Gordon Head Dynamite “was a defensive battle with very few offensive chances,” that ended up in a 0-0 tie.
The locals were back at it Sunday morning.
Facing the Powell River Surge, coach Lee said the Rebels went into the match knowing they had identical records with two other teams “and that we needed to start scoring some goals.”
“We played much better soccer on Sunday, and were able to move the ball around quite well against Powell River which opened up space for our girls.”
With room to run the Rebels created a lot of chances and played to a strong 6-0 win. Charlotte Palmer and Gabrielle Webster-Baumel led the charge with two goals each. Julia Witte and Sydney Cervi rounded out the scoring.
That win put them in the gold medal game against the Cordova Bay Impact.
“This game was a physical affair with good ball movement on both sides,” said Lee.
The Rebels, he said, “were very strong defensively and eventually took the game over and kept them hemmed into their own end for most of the second half. Our possession led to a few scoring opportunities, but we were unable to capitalize,” and the game ended in another nil-nil draw, leaving both teams with the identical 2-0-2 records.
The tournament tiebreaker was the head-to-head result and then goals for-and-against. The Rebels’ seven goals for and zero against was better than their opponents’ four goals for and zero against, so game, set, match, Rebels.
Lee was quick to credit the entire team, and pointed to their keeper, Rebecca Strasky, and the sensational play of defenders Erica Friesen, Kate Reynolds, Maya Gayton, Sarah Dunlop and Lauren McKay, who kept the competition off the scoreboard en route to four straight shutouts.
Also clearing the way for the great finish was tournament standout and team MVP Charlotte Palmer, along with Alexandria Shaw, Jesslyn Bradbury and Kylie Kiefer, who played strong two way games all weekend.
Kaitlyn Lee also had a strong performance up front pitching in with multiple assists.