For the fourth time in the last six years, the Ballenas Whalers senior girls soccer team has qualified for provincials, which take place in Burnaby at the end of this month.
The Whalers girls were in Comox earlier this week at Mark Isfeld Secondary School for the Island Championships. Coming in as the number one seed from the North, the Whalers would continue their recent dominance, putting up three more clean sheets as they cruised to the Island final.
After wins of 3-0 over Brentwood, 6-0 over Mark Isfeld and 4-0 over Lambrick Park, the Whalers came up against a tough St. Michaels University School team that came in to the final well rested.
The Whalers were game, battling back and forth with the Blue Devils all game long. In the end, the Blue Devils managed to squeak out a 1-0 win, leaving the Whalers with a second place finish at the Islands and a berth in the provincials.
“Our defense and goal-tending has been great,” head coach Larry Stefanek said. “We had a run of nine games without allowing a single goal, so that’s been pretty impressive to see as a coach. It’s great to know that the team is working so hard all around like that.”
Goaltender Olivia Collins kept the ball out of her net for the first three games of the tournament for the Whalers, stretching her streak to nine games without a goal against.
Forward Emily Robertson continued her strong play as of late, scoring two goals in the first game, five goals in the second game and two more in the final game of pool play against Lambrick Park. With nine goals in three games, Robertson has been a player that opposing teams haven’t had an answer for and coach Stefanek is hoping to see much of the same come provincials.
“She’s been on fire,” Stefanek said. “There hasn’t been much other teams can do to stop our attack and Emily has been at the forefront of that attack for our team. It’s really amazing because she’s scoring all sorts of different ways too, so it makes it that much more impressive.”
Grade 9 call up Megan McCrae and Grade 12 Sophie Palmer were also key in the Whalers’ scoring attack, with each scoring two goals in three games. With the team firing on all cylinders, Stefanek is looking to keep that momentum up.
“That’s what we’re hoping,” Stefanek said. “We didn’t really have much in terms of practice time between the North Island and Island tournaments. Now we’ve got two weeks before provincials so we’ll not only be able to rest up but we can also have a few practices to work on things too.”
Heading back to the provincials again, the Whalers will look to feed off of their play as of late and continue the dominance from Island teams at the provincials as well.
“It’s been a running theme for Island teams,” Stefanek said. “They’ve historically done very well at the provincials and we’re going to hope to continue that trend for Island teams. We feel we have a good chance here and if we can keep playing the way we’ve been playing, we should have a good tournament.”