Soccer has broken out on four fronts this fall, with an elementary school tournament adding to the action on Hope Minor Soccer, Hope Secondary boys and Valley Choppers men’s teams.
Silver Creek Elementary School principal, Bruce Becker, is president of Hope Minor Soccer, which has registered 100 players from kindergarten to Grade 8. They play on Saturdays on the Hope Secondary field.
Speaking of the elementary tournament he organized for last Thursday, Becker said, “It’s one of those ideas that had been percolating for a number of years.”
The event was held at Hope Secondary, using minor soccer goals and small pitches for nine-a-side games that lasted 45 minutes, with 15-minute breaks between.
Coquihalla, Silver Creek, Kent and Harrison schools brought teams of Grade 6 students for the round-robin event which was mostly rain-free, said Becker. By tournament rules, each team needed at least three girls on the field at all times.
“We had four high school students doing the reffing,” added Becker. “It was mostly about having fun, though I did keep a record of the results.
“The games were all pretty close but Coquihalla had two wins and a tie; Silver Creek had a win, a loss and a tie; Kent had three ties and Harrison had two losses and a tie.”
Hope Secondary teacher, Jeremy Smith, plays for the Choppers in the Chilliwack Men’s League and is coaching the Mustangs boys team this fall. The boys are past the half-way mark in their single-A season, against some very tough competition.
“This is my second year with the boys,” said Smith, who also coaches the girls in the spring. “I hope to get them to play as a team, be patient with the ball, make some back-passes and keep the ball on the ground.”
Sept. 29, the Mustangs hosted Chilliwack’s Unity Christian for their home opener. Unity faced a brisk wind and the blinding sun in the first half, two factors that helped Hope get on the scoreboard first — without firing a shot.
A wind-assisted clearing kick by Aaron Striker from Hope’s defensive end put speedy Damon Campbell on a potential breakaway. Before Campbell could get to the ball, a Unity defender stepped in the way — just as the Unity keeper sprinted up and blasted the ball into his defender. The ball lofted into the air and fell straight into the Unity net.
Nine minutes in, Hope had a 1-0 lead, though Unity pushed hard to change that. Mustang defenders, Jacob Chisholm and Dustin Keyes made amazing saves on the goal-line and rookie keeper Ben Gladue made another — but the talented Unity side finally broke the goose egg, scoring three goals in three minutes before the half and four more in the second, for a 7-1 win.
It got no easier when Credo Christian visited on Oct. 4. Credo finished third in the province last year and they had no problem filling the scorecard. Hope’s best chance came on a penalty kick late in the second half, when Hunter Peters made a great, low shot to the right corner — but the keeper made an equally impressive play to maintain his shutout.
Peters made good on his next chance, at Agassiz on Tuesday, Oct. 11. The Chieftans were up 4-0 late in the second half when their keeper was called for holding the ball too long. Peters had replaced Gladue in net but stepped up to take the pass from Matteo Bobb on the indirect free kick from the top of the box. His shot glanced off a defender and found the back of the net. Final score: 4-1, though coach Smith told his squad if they had played the whole game like they did in the second half, it could have been a much closer game.
Hope hosts Chilliwack’s High Road Academy next Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., weather conditions permitting.
The boys made a six-hour drive to Nakusp to take part in a four-game tournament in late September, recording a win and three losses — and they will be hosting perhaps the first-ever boys’ soccer tournament at Hope Secondary, Oct. 28 and 29.
Coach Smith said eight teams are committed, including Agassiz, Unity Christian, Abby Christian, Seabird Island, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Merritt. For the convenience of Hope fans, all Mustangs games will be on the field closest to the school.