The Whalers are through to the BC High School AA Sr. Girls provincial soccer championships on the strength of a second place finish at this week’s Island finals.
Winners of six of their last eight games, the local side kick started its playoff run May 6-7 on Saltspring Island by reeling off four impressive wins to claim the AA North Island title.
At the NI’s, teacher/coach Larry Stefanek and his hard-charging young squad posted wins over Shawnigan Lake (1-0), Mark Isfeld (3-1), the host Scorpions (4-0), and trimmed the NDSS Islanders 2-1 in the final.
In that final the two teams were tied 1-1 at the half. Sophie Palmer scored for the Whalers in the first half off a breakaway, and Emily Robertson slotted home the winner midway through the second.
“Four good wins in a row. Hard fought, we played really well in the smok’n heat — it was hot hot hot,” said coach Larry Stefanek.
Back in action at the eight-team AA Island finals played out at Shawnigan Lake Monday and Tuesday, BSS opened with a big 2-1 win over the Brooks Bobcats from Powell River.
The Whalers suffered a 3-0 loss Monday afternoon, but bounced back Tuesday morning with their best game of the season, blasting the Blue Devils from St. Michael’s University School 8-2.
Robertson and Brittany Britz both had hat tricks in that one, and Palmer struck for a pair. It was the team’s highest offensive output of the season.
“Wow is right,” chuckled Stefanek, “we just smashed them. It was great — that was huge,” he said of the win, adding the girls “played incredible. They played so well, as you can imagine by the scoring line.”
That win clinched them top spot in their pool which put them in the tournament final (in which they came up on the short end of a hard-fought 1-nil final to the NDSS Islanders), but more importantly it punched their ticket to the provincials.
“We had a few chances,” Stefanek said of the Island final, which was deadlocked in a scoreless tie at the half, adding “we hit the cross bar with about 10 minutes left and had another good opportunity a couple minutes later, but just couldn’t convert, couldn’t quite pull it off, but it was a real good game.”
The Islanders scored the game winner off a free kick midway through the second half.
The top three teams at the Island finals advance to the B.C.s — Lambrick Park egded Brooks 1-nil for the third and final berth.
“Incredible effort, in both tournaments,” surmised a proud Stefanek, pointing out Tuesday “was amazing. They just showed a lot of grit and heart, not to mention we are so young — of our starting 11, seven of them are Grade 10’s, that’s how young we are.”
BIG GAMES ON
The Whalers get a couple weeks off to heal their wounds, then take their game up the road to Comox May 30-June 1 for the 16-team provincial championships.