Cougarettes piece together an impressive soccer season

NSS Cougarettes with fifth place plaque at the 2014 Single A Provincials in Vancouver.  - Ryan Willman
NSS Cougarettes with fifth place plaque at the 2014 Single A Provincials in Vancouver.
— image credit: Ryan Willman

Each of the players, coaches and organizers received a blue Leggo piece from coach Jay Gardner during the course of the 2014 girls soccer season.

The pieces alone are inconsequential, he explained, but when brought together with the other pieces the girls could shape the success of the Cougarettes any way they wanted.

Through dedication and perseverance, the girls of the Nakusp Secondary Soccer team battled their way through a demanding spring, accumulating an 11 and 3 regular season record.

The Cougars prevailed on the tournament circuit with a second place finish in Creston, a third place showing in Osoyoos and third place finish in their home tournament.

Coaches Rhonda Palmer and Jay Gardner helped mould the team into a veritable powerhouse of synergism and tenacity that confidently rolled south to Grand Forks to fight for a provincial berth during the Kootenay Zone playoffs.

The tournament was a sudden death format, where each game played would make or break the girls ambitions to advance to the provincial stage. Their first contest was a close

1-0 victory over an intense Kaslo squad, then, the Cougars moved onto a deadlock battle with Kimberly. The contest could not be settled during regulation time and evolved into a war of attrition as each team took turns hammering away at a shootout. The stalemate was shattered after twelve rounds of dot shots when Maddy Palmer put the ball into the back of the net and punched Nakusp’s ticket to the provincials.

The BC School Sports single A girls soccer tournament is a contest that pits 16 teams from around the province into a four playoff pool battle for the coveted banner that is awarded to the winning team.

This year’s tournament was hosted by private school West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver. Nakusp was seeded into a pool with North Island, Fort St. James and familiar private school provincial regular, Immaculata.

The girls earned their first win during their first tournament game against North Island, dispatching the team from Port McNeill with a 3-0 victory. The winning performance continued with a sequential triumph against Fort St. James, as the girls dominated the match with a 4-0 showing.

Maddy Palmer netted the goal of note with a stealer header off a corner kick.

The next match up was against the provincial juggernaut, Immaculata. Rumors of this squads seasonal stomping around the Kelowna soccer circuit did not dissuade the Cougars from fighting tooth and nail for a victory that would have carried them to a chance to play in the finals.

The girls’ unified determination stupefied the Immaculata powerhouse into a goalless draw during the first half. However, the break allowed the private school to regroup and switch up strategies that capitalized on opportunities to find the back of the net, and walked off the field defeating the Cougars 4-0.

Immaculata coach, Paul Friere congratulated Palmer on Nakusp’s efforts, confessing, “that was the toughest first half we had this year.”

The defeat moved the opportunity to win the banner beyond the reach of Nakusp, but kept hopes alive of improving last year’s 6th place provincial showing.

The Cougars’ first playoff game was against Langley Christian and the sweet stand-alone goal by Kira Streliev catapulted the Cougars into a contest for 5th or 6th place.

The final game of the tournament was a rematch against old rival Kimberly, and after 70 minutes of fierce play, another stand-alone goal by Streliev earned the Cougars a fifth place, and the Nakusp squad managed to build a top public school finish out of their leggo pieces.

Palmer described the week as “extraordinary” and expressed her admiration for her squad stating “Jay and I are so proud of how the girls played and carried themselves on and off the field. They are such a cohesive group.”


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