The Prince Rupert Youth Soccer select teams didn’t play against the Vancouver Whitecaps, but they came awfully close.
Both the under-12 boys’ team and the under-15 girls’ squad travelled to Kamloops from May 17 to 19 to take part in the 175-team Slurpee Cup, hosted by the Kamloops Youth Soccer Association, and against top-notch Lower Mainland competition the teams stole two wins each in their very first year attending.
“So far above and beyond [the competition in the Northwest],” said under-15 team coach Gordon Armstrong.
“[After our two wins] we basically lost to a Whitecaps program and we lost to a soccer academy from Vancouver Island, and those teams were so good. I think the coaches took so much away from that that we can teach … the level of play was so high and the girls rose to the occasion.”
The girls’ team defeated Williams Lake and Kootenay South and for them to even score was momentous for the newbies. Armstrong spoke with another coach from Prince George who told the skipper it took three years before their squad could even put one behind an opposing goalkeeper at the tournament.
“They were a little intimidated off the start but then by the second half [against Vancouver Island], they started attacking, they started really going after them and it paid off.”
Brittany Waite shone for the team, while Suttira Johansen was dazzling in goal for the Rupertites, who showed up fashionably late for the tournament barbecue the Kamloops association hosted.
“I think we were the last ones there,” said the coach.
“Standard Prince Rupert. We’re the party kids while everyone else is at home sleeping.”
Meanwhile, the under-12 boys’ side performed equally well, winning two matches against Rutland (2-1) and Quesnel (4-2), and losing two to Vernon (5-0) and Kamloops Blaze White (4-0). The latter teams being the high-calibre, Whitecaps-backed groups.
“It was amazing to see the way those kids passed and played and talked to each other, which is something that’s similar to the direction our kids need to go,” said boys’ coach Andree Michaud.
Michaud was also impressed with the welcoming atmosphere the whole city had, as well as the dominating presence 175 teams brings to a city.
“It was quite overwhelming when we arrived there and anywhere you went in town, although Kamloops is a big town, you could see soccer teams everywhere,” said Michaud.
“The sportsmanship was incredible because [Vernon’s] team was way stronger than ours, but when we did play good and we got chances the other parents cheered us on and that was really nice to hear.”
The most important quality the kids learned, explained the coach was the concept of playing as a team. There’s no room for individualistic thinking on these well-oiled Lower Mainland machines.
“They need to become a team, so they can’t skip practices. They need to understand when a coach works them hard and makes them run, that’s all for the good of the team, so they can have the endurance to play against these high-calibre teams so that’s very important,” said Michaud.
Sherangad Sahai scored three goals during the weekend, including both tallies versus Rutland. Nolan Stava scored three as well and had a brace against Quesnel where he was named the MVP of the game. Curtis Swan and David Armstrong were also strong performers, with Armstrong claiming MVP honours in the Rutland match. Carsen Vibert performed admirably in goal in place of Dominic Strand, who broke his finger earlier in the season, and played defence in the tourney.