Though they didn’t win any games at zones this past weekend, one major positive the Charles Hays (CHSS) girls’ soccer team took away from Friday’s matches was the knowledge that almost every single one of them would be back for another go at it next year.
Save for standout goalkeeper Harjyot Sidhu, every player is eligible to return for the 2016 season, a fact that the team can build on through their growing pains this year when they played well, but went winless during the season.
“I expect that everyone will return next year. The girls have developed friendships through the team and are committed to soccer,” said head coach Kyla Ragan.
“The Grade 12s next year are the girls that [assistant coach] Craig [Munro] and I first started coaching when they were in Grade 9 and we are looking forward to how they will play their last high school year.”
The Rainmakers hosted the region on Friday and Saturday and came up short in both of their qualifying games.
A 6-0 loss to the Caledonia Kermodes, historically the strongest squad in the Northwest, kicked off the tournament on Friday morning. The ‘Makers then followed that up with a better effort against Kitimat’s Mount Elizabeth Secondary (MESS), but ended up on the wrong side of a tight 5-4 loss to the Eagles.
“The girls played a good game against Kitimat [Friday]. They played their positions very well. Our defence worked hard to keep the play area short and it worked in our favour with offsides and keeping the ball in MESS’ end of the field. They were able to stop and control the ball to place it in our players’ feet,” said the coach.
Part of that returning group for next year includes a Grade 9 student on the rise.
“Hannah Witchen had an excellent defensive game and won MVP for her performance,” Ragan added.
Caledonia (CAL) went undefeated in qualifying play with their win over CHSS and another 3-0 win over the Smithers Secondary Gryphons. Their berth in the final meant that Smithers and MESS would duke it out in the zone semifinals on Saturday morning and Smithers ended up victorious, winning 3-2 against the Eagles. They also defeated MESS once on Friday with a 2-0 previous victory.
In the final, a closely-contested game between CAL and Smithers, the Gryphons topped the powerhouse Kermodes in the shootout to move on to provincials.
Some offensive highlights from the Rainmakers included a well-placed shot from forward Brittany Waite against the Eagles.
“Brittany had lots of opportunities [against MESS]. She made a lot of good runs, but kept losing the ball right before the shot. Her penalty shot was perfectly executed,” said the coach.
A strong group of forwards will be back donning the blue and green for Charles Hays, including Reagan Pomponio, Suttira Johansen, Waite, Tanveen Sahdra, Katerina Samaras and Charlotte Kobza. Tanveen Randhawa, who sat out her Grade 12 year this season due to a torn achilles tendon, will also be graduating and moving on from the team.