Smithers beat the Hazelton Strikers to win the Seafest Men’s Soccer Tournament on June 10. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

Smithers men’s team takes Seafest soccer tournament

Prince Rupert Football Club placed third after being knocked out in the semi-final round

Soccer was in full swing in Prince Rupert June 8 – 11 as the city hosted its annual Seafest Men’s Soccer Tournament.

Seven teams — including squads from Prince Rupert, Gitsegukla, Hazelton, Smithers and Terrace — took to the Charles Hays Secondary School field where they competed for the title of best in the northwest for 2018. Smithers eventually won the tournament after beating Hazelton 3-1 in the tournament finals.

READ MORE: Rupert Football Club get the ball rolling

Rick Deforge, coach of Prince Rupert Football Club (PRFC) and one of the tournament’s organizers , said team attendance for the tournament was better than in previous years, which made for some exciting and competitive action.

“Overall, the teams that came were in good shape,” he said. “I’m really happy with how the tournament went.”

PRFC finished third overall in the tournament after losing to Hazelton in the loser’s bracket semi-finals. The team arrived in that game after going 3-1, beating Rain City — Prince Rupert’s second team — Gitsegukla and losing to Smithers, the tournament’s eventual champions.

Going into the semi-final matchup, Deforge said his team was running on tired legs after playing in multiple 90 minute games earlier in the day. PRFC was also missing some of its key midfield players due to injury.

“That all put tension on us to move guys around,” he said.

Despite the lack of rest,

PRFC was able to press the action and generate some opportunities early on. However, they couldn’t capitalize on their best opportunity of the first half, a clear header at Hazelton’s back post that just missed the goal over the crossbar.

Hazelton took advantage of this miss, and scored the game’s opening goal off of a free kick from just outside PRFC’s box to take a 1-0 lead into half time.

In the second half, PRFC missed another opportunity to score a tying goal, this time a close range shot that hit the Hazelton crossbar. Hazelton immediately pushed the ball into PRFC’s half on the counter attack, scoring quickly to take a 2-0 lead, which they would hold onto to book their spot in the tournament finals against Smithers.

Despite the loss, Deforge said he was encouraged by the play of his team, particularly those who don’t have a lot of experience.

READ MORE: Rupert soccer team makes it rain in zones

“All-in-all, the young guys are stepping in and doing a good job,” he said. “We’re building and getting better every tournament.”

PRFC will next play in Kitimat in July. Deforge said he is confident in his team’s ability to compete there.

“I’m sure we’ll place in the top three without a doubt,” he said.

Rupert soccer team makes it rain in zones

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