Nelson Selects Simply Golden in Capturing Provincial B U16 Girl's Cup
What a difference a year makes.
Last year, on the home Lakeside pitch, Nelson Selects came ever so close to gaining a spot on the medal podium.
This season the Selects pushed aside the rest of the field, capturing the U16 Girl’s Championship at the BC Soccer Provincial B Cup Sunday in Penticton.
Nelson knocked off provincial rival Vernon United 2-0 in the Championship Final to claim the gold medal.
Ali D’odorico scored twice in the second half, and Hanna Quinn registered the shutout to thrust the Selects to the top of the medal podium.
“At times it was just incredible how well our girls played,” said coach Paul Burkart after the game.
“But it really was our goal scoring that made the difference,” Burkart, who along with assistant coach Morgan Dehnel, Technical Director Brett Adams, Trainer Shane Taylor and Manager Layla Precious form the sideline crew for the Selects.
“In total in the three round robin games we scored 12 goals. Two years ago I don’t think we scored that many goals in our entire season. But we have focused our last month on finishing and scoring goals and it appears to have paid off.”
The final matched the top two teams in the tournament, each finishing the round robin with perfect 3-0 records — Vernon having the edge with a 13-1 goal average to Nelson’s 12-2.
After Emily Taylor rang a laser shot off the cross bard from just outside the 18-yard box, twice Vernon saw potential chances to take the lead denied.
The first game 33 minutes into the half when game officials waved of a goal.
Five minutes later, Vernon, which defeated Nelson 4-1 in 2015, thought it had scored again but a shot off the cross bar failed to fully cross the line.
Twice dodging proverbial bullets, Nelson took the lead minutes into the second half when D’odorico converted a cross from Sofia Arcuri.
Ten minutes later, Nelson got some insurance when D’odorico scored, again on a nice pass from Arcuri.
Quinn then made a huge save to preserve the lead as the steady keeper thwarted a speedy United forward.
“The day before we played in the final, I watched Vernon absolutely dismantle Coquitlam Ford, the second place team in their pool, 6-0,” Burkart explained.
“(Vernon) played great defense, they had three very talented strikers and a great keeper (so) I knew we had to come with our best to beat them, and we certainly did.”
Burkart said the entire Selects’ squad, from keeper Hanna Quinn to the strikers, had it all working.
“Our pressure defense did not allow them to move the ball very well and if they did get it past our back four, our girls ran them down and moved the ball up the field again,” Burkart said.
“And Hanna Quinn, our keeper, although not tested too often, came up with some incredible saves to maintain her shutout.”
Nelson opened the tournament with a 3-0 win over defending Provincial B Champ, Marpole Phoenix.
Mattea Lorenzo, D’Odorico and Shaen Panko-Dool scored for Nelson while Quinn registered the shutout.
Friday, the Selects built up a 4-0 lead en route to a 4-1 victory over Kelowna United, last year’s silver medal winner in Nelson.
D’Odorico scored a pair with Arcuri and Lorenzo adding singles to lead the Selects to victory.
Kelowna scored late in the game to spoil the shutout bid by Quinn.
Saturday, Nelson secured its place in the final by routing Terrace 5-1.
Panko-Dool and D’Odorico each scored twice while Lorenzo added a single to complete the Nelson scoring.
“Our back two middle defenders, Julia Burkart and Allison Bendis, played an incredible game (against Vernon), in fact had an absolutely incredible tournament, running down everyone that managed to get behind them,” Burkart said.
“And our midfielders took over after that,” he added.
“They moved the ball around and down the field and kept feeding balls into the middle until our forwards were able to squeeze a few balls past a real talented keeper.
“In the end, like all the games, all the girls played incredibly well, they worked incredibly hard and they finally got paid off for their efforts.”