Nelson Selects U15 Girls Claim U16 Gold
Playing against older and bigger competition, the Nelson Selects U15 Girls used speed, determination and stingy defense to fuel them to the U16 Division gold medal in the annual Terry Walgren Memorial Tournament in Nelson past weekend.
The U15s came into the tournament hungry for their first wins of the season and didn’t disappoint amassing a perfect 4-0 record and not allowing a single goal against.
“Our first tournament of the season was against some really tough older American teams earlier this month at the Hot Shot Tournament in Coeur d’Alene and though we played well, we simply did not get the offense we were hoping for,” said U15 coach Paul Burkart.
“The goal this weekend was continue to play a defensive game but also create more scoring chances – and that is exactly what the girls did.”
The tournament started with a Friday night contest against the Kootenay South U16 squad. Nelson dominated play from the opening whistle and 20 minutes into the opening half Shianne Michalchuk finished a nice play that included great passing between forwards Grace Dehnel, Jodi Surina and Mattea Lorenzo.
The Nelson side continued to control play, getting numerous great scoring chances. Sixteen minutes into the second half, determined work by Dehnel led to a turnover and a nice passing play between Michalchuk and Shane Panko Dool who scored from 10 yards out. The game ended with a 2-0 victory for Nelson.
Late Saturday morning, the Nelson U15s took on Columbia Valley U16-17s in a game that again saw the home side dominate play. Michalchuk scored 11 minutes into the game when she launched a bullet from just outside the 18-yard box to set the tone for a stellar game for the speedy Nelson striker.
Two minutes later, Nelson forward Ruby Creighton landed a shot on net that was saved by the Columbia Valley keeper, but Michalchuk pounced on the rebound to make the score 2-0.
Eight minutes into the second half, Michalchuk created a turnover deep in the Columbia Valley zone and roofed a shot for her hat trick goal that ensured her team the 3-0 victory.
“It was a real gritty strong performance by Shianne and all of our forwards,” said Burkart.
“They gave the Columbia Valley defence all they could handle throughout the entire game.”
The third game featured the younger U16 Columbia Valley team, but Nelson stayed with their same attacking style and crisp passing to once again come out the stronger side.
Seven minutes into the game, Julia Burkart delivered a perfect pass to team captain Sofia Arcuri in the middle who launched a 25 yard shot that sailed over the Columbia Valley keeper.
At the 20 minute mark striker Abby Beauchamp put away a rebound to make the game 2-0 and the U15s held onto the lead for the rest of the game.
Needing a win to secure top spot, Sunday morning at 7 a.m. the U15s faced their toughest challenge of the tournament, the Nelson Selects U16 Girls.
With both teams playing a similar style of possession soccer taught by the Nelson Whitecaps Program, the game was a treat for soccer purists.
Two minutes into the game, the younger Nelson side shocked the U16s when Beauchamp juked the older defender and struck a perfect shot on goal from just outside the 18-yard box that sailed in under the crossbar.
The U16s then went onto to gain the edge in play for the remainder of the first half but could not penetrate the strong U15 defence.
The second half featured great play by both teams with an even half. With time running out, U16 forward Laurel Halleran had the best opportunity of the half when she fired a beautiful shot on net that tested U15 keeper Hanna Quinn who preserved the shutout and her perfect weekend.
“That final game was a great effort by both teams,” said Burkart.
“Coach Pete Quinn and I were very proud of the way all of our girls played in a game against excellent competition.”
Burkart added that the key to their success was team defence, which was anchored by the back line of Allison Bendis, Ruby Seright, Bella Guderyan, Ashley Hall and Julia Burkart who were absolutely rock solid, frustrating the opponents with their play.
“We accomplished our goal of creating a lot of offence and as a result scored some very nice goals.” said Burkart.
“But the defensive play of our whole team and especially that of our back line was what really set us up for the success we had.”