Prince Rupert hosted its first home soccer tournament during the weekend of Aug. 22 to 23 since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic welcoming teams from across the North.
Both the Prince Rupert women’s and the men’s teams made places as runners-up in the finals of the 2021 Prince Rupert United Invitational tournament.
Vern Barker, tournament organizer, said it felt good to finally have the tournament back home this year.
“Everybody’s happy, everybody’s excited,” he said.
Fans filled the stands and parking lot at Charles Hays Secondary to cheer on the home team. Fans celebrated goals by blasting air horns and honking from their cars.
In the women’s final, Prince Rupert Football Club, were edged out by the visiting team, Terrace Providers, in a penalty shootout to win the tournament.
In a thrilling match, Prince Rupert F.C. fought back from a goal down and scored a crucial equalizer in the final minute of regular time to tie the game one apiece to force extra time.
The home team had the visitors on the back foot throughout both halves, leaving their opponents gasping for air by the end of extra time. However, they fell short in the penalty shootout where Terrace forward, Jasleen Sandhu, stuck the ball into the far left corner to win the match 4-2.
Terrace Providers coach, Fred Mowatt, said the win was a satisfying one for the Terrace women.
“[Prince Rupert] has never lost a tournament here. This is the first one,” he said. “That’s what makes it so sweet.”
In fact, this is only the second tournament in three years that Prince Rupert F.C. has not won.
In the men’s final, the Smithers Gunners swept past Prince Rupert United 3-0 in a decisive win. Gunners’ goalkeeper, Oliver Schwuchow, played a tournament clean sheet — letting no goals past him in all matches.
The women’s and men’s team winners walked away with $1,250 and $1,200 dollars, respectively.
This year, five men’s and five women’s teams from across the North participated in the tournament.
Prince Rupert Football Club, Hazelton Hustlers, Gitwangak Wild Cats, Terrace Providers and Kitimat People of the Snow represented the women’s sides while Prince Rupert United, Prince Rupert Gunslicks, Haisla and the Smithers Gunners represented the men’s teams.
Normally, there are about 10 teams that participate in the local tournaments. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some clubs weren’t able to put teams together for this year’s shorter summer tournament season, Karina Wilson, Gitwangak Wild Cats coach, said.
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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