It’s almost a whole new look for the Charles Hays girls’ soccer team for 2015.
Gone are the graduated strikers, midfielders and rock-solid defencemen who made last year’s team a consistent threat around the region, though, there are some returning veterans who will guide the rather large crop of Grade 9s and 10s on the team.
They include strikers Tanveen Sahdra and Katerina Samaras, who were a pair up front for the Rainmakers against Terrace’s Caledonia Secondary (CAL) in a preseason tuneup held last Friday at noon, and goalie Harjyot Sidhu, who suited up in net for Charles Hays.
It was the first time the ‘Makers, who have been practicing since February, played as a cohesive team for the year.
“We lost a lot of players last year. Most of them were Grade 12s, so we lost our strong front line of midfielders, so there’s kind of new dynamics … I think we have five returning players, so we’re developing, learning,” said head coach Kyla Ragan.
Ragan wasn’t as fortunate with the number of substitutions as was CAL’s bench boss, however. Caledonia could field a whole other team with the number of spares (11) that they brought along Highway 16, while Ragan had one sub during the Good Friday showdown.
Midfielders Emily Cavin and Suttira Johansen provided support on the offensive and defensive side of the ball and helped the rest of the team with positional play, which was a focus for the younger squad while they find their bearings in competitive play.
“They worked hard; they pushed themselves,” said the coach after the match.
“We were missing half our team so we had no subs, so they tried their best and worked hard. We’ll work on our positions and see what happens for our play day next weekend.”
The Rainmakers fell 6-0 to CAL, but for the first half, and the first 10 minutes of the second, the ‘Makers matched the Kermodes’ efforts before the Rupert team ran out of steam, while Caledonia fielded substitutions the rest of the way.
After some early pressure by CAL, the Kermodes went up 1-0 when miscommunication between Charles Hays’ defenceman and goalie led to a chance for Terrace and they buried it in the 23rd minute.
That would be how the first half ended, but sustained pressure from CAL led to an outburst of chances for the visiting side 15 minutes into the second half.
A Kermodes’ corner kick connected to a forward 16 yards out and the striker slid it smoothly along the ground it for Terrace for the 2-0 lead.
A great flurry of saves by Sidhu wasn’t enough to stop a fourth consecutive shot on one play in close, as a right-field ball-in found a Kermode inside the box. She was stopped by Sidhu three times before she buried a fourth opportunity for the 3-0 advantage three minutes after CAL’s second marker.
Three more tallies late in the match gave Terrace the preseason victory and sweeper Medalana Jardim got the Rainmakers out of trouble a few times as well.
It was a good measuring stick for Ragan to see where her new players’ strong points were and which positions and situations they thrived in.
“We have another two strikers who will also be playing up front, so Tanveen’s strong in midfield as well, so we can play her back there. [Sahdra and Samaras] talk to each other. They’ve played well with each other for the last two years, so they’re used to [playing forward] by now,” said the coach.
This Saturday, the ‘Makers host a play day when CAL and Kitimat’s Mount Elizabeth Secondary School come to town. So far, the schedule is set up with Charles Hays and Caledonia hooking up again at 10 a.m., Kitimat playing Terrace at 1 p.m. and Rupert finishing the day with a match against Kitimat at 3 p.m.