With two more teams than in their first-ever home tournament last year, the Hope Secondary School Mustang girls had more variety to work against, in their quest for a top-tier finish in their 11-team tournament on the April 8 weekend.
Schools from as far away as 100 Mile House, Golden and the Slocan Valley (west of Nelson) attended the event, which used fields at Hope Secondary, Coquihalla Elementary and the former C.E. Barry Intermediate school site.
Despite the cool, damp weather, there was plenty of spirit — perhaps best shown by the Lillooet team. As their bus arrived at the field, music and singing were blasting out of the open windows. They maintained the fun on the pitch and at the school dance, Friday night, which was planned to coincide with the tournament.
“Oh yeah… those Lillooet girls were crazy!” was student Ben Gladue’s post-dance assessment, Saturday morning.
Games began at noon on Friday, with teams playing two 40-minute matches before a break at 3 p.m., which allowed coach and event-organizer Jeremy Smith to plan the next round of match-ups.
Fortuitously, the skies broke loose with a deluge of rain during the break, which promptly switched off at the restart of action. The rain didn’t help conditions on the HSS fields, as vast sections were devoid of grass and footing was unpredictable.
“Girls were slipping all over the place,” said Smith, who said district workers had filled holes and used a roller to smooth the field, though they could do nothing at present to replace the missing grass.
After two round-robin sessions, teams were tiered into three levels for Saturday’s 60-minute games. Like last year, Hope made it to the B-level, though coach Smith thought they could have gone to the top.
“We could have easily been in the top four,” he said. “100 Mile beat us 1-0 with an incredibly lucky goal (a 30-yard kick that hit the post and just made it across the line), though we dominated the whole game. Against Clearwater, we tied 1-1, then couldn’t hit the net in the shootout (tie-breaker).“
The Mustangs beat Mount Sentinel in their first match, Saturday and met Abbotsford Christian in the battle for fifth and sixth. Hope’s Cassia McLachlan took advantage of a goalmouth scramble at the 11-minute mark, putting her team up 1-0.
Late in the first half, McLachlan took a free kick from the top of the box, passing to Jessica Dupas who shot on net. The ball bounced around the packed goalmouth, with Hope’s Zoe Kamp momentarily freezing the ball between her chest and a defender’s. It squirted loose and McLachlan stepped in to knock it home.
Up 2-0, Hope almost lost their momentum, when ACS midfielder, Rachel Taekema made a rush down the wing early in the second half. Taekema forced keeper Kayla Peters to leave her net to make a challenge — but the shot sailed wide.
McLachlan soon responded with a crisp diagonal delivery to a wide-open Dupas. The ACS keeper stopped the shot but was reluctant to pounce on the loose ball. Alyssa Goglin saw her chance; rushed in and put Hope ahead 3-0.
Abby Christian got a single goal, late in the game, giving Hope fifth overall.
Merritt beat Surrey Christian, to take first place.
Wrapping up the tournament with four MVP shirts for his team, Smith tagged McLachlan, who scored perhaps 90 per cent of their goals on the weekend.
Grade 12 defender Hunter Gauthier was credited with “Saving our bacon on the back line,” said Smith. “She’s super vocal and uses her body to cut off the angles.”
Hannah Chisholm, a Grade 9 student, “Used to be an up-and-comer,” said the coach, “but she has arrived. She’s a little firecracker and not afraid to dig in.”
The fourth MVP went to Zoe Kamp, a Grade 11 student. “Last year was her first,” said Smith. “She’s really started to figure out the positioning, to get out wide and drive to the corners.”
The Mustang girls will be hosting a friendly against Lytton on April 19 and have three tournaments lined up in Merritt, Clearwater and Osoyoos.