The Nakusp Cougars placed sixth in the provincial championship in Victoria.

Blood, sweat and cheers: Cougars battle hard at provincials

Nakusp qualified for this years provincials, earning their right to compete along the other sixteen teams from around the province.

The 2012 Boys A Soccer Championships were hosted by the St. Andrews Regional High School in Victoria, B.C. Nakusp qualified for this years provincials, earning their right to compete along the other sixteen teams from around the province.

The drop of the ball found a stunned West Point Grey Academy team unable to stop Max McCoy from getting the first solid shot on goal, thus putting aside any assumptions that the Cougars were just some bush team. West Point settled their players down and fell into an evenly matched back and forth game that pitted the Wolves technical style of chip passes through the midfield against the Cougars speed and dexterity through the offensive zone. The Nakusp boys battled hard and mustered ten shots on net, but the clock ticked out to a satisfying goose egg draw.

The next game found the Cougars right in the heart of sport on the turf fields at the University of Victoria surrounded by two other soccer matches and a shrill girls’ field hockey game. The opponents this go around were Nakusp’s old rivals the Immaculata Mustangs. The game proved to be an even campaign, and at the half the match was still locked in a goalless draw.

The second 35 minutes saw a volley of chances as the shot count went from five to fourteen. Suddenly a break down in the Cougars’ defensive zone saw the Mustangs send a ball towards Nakusp keeper Connor Reimer and in a blink something had gone awfully wrong and the Cougars found themselves on the wrong side of a goal. Nakusp sweeper Kodi Bowman launched a throw-in deep in the Mustangs’ zone and found striker Zach Friedenberger. The Mustangs keeper moved out to the edge of his box to challenge the rush, but an unfazed Zach slipped the ball into the net for the needed equalizer. The goal came right at the “eleventh hour” as the referee blew the games ending whistle.

In order to place first in the pool and get a chance at the banner the Cougars needed two specific things to happen; they needed Immaculata and West Point Grey Academy to tie their next game and the Cougars needed to win in their game against the Lakes District Lakers by a margin of five goals. Satisfying these two requirements would force a three-way tie in points, which would then defer to the goal differential to decide the winner.

The Cougars upheld their end of the plan by enduring a bloody battle against the Lakers and achieving the desired and specific win. Miraculously a “dummy” move by striker Dugan McInnes allowed midfielder Nathan Hawe to score the Cougars’ fifth goal of the match late in the second half thereby removing playoff hopes for Nakusp. After their match the Cougar squad crowded around the tournament board outside the field at GNS, eagerly waiting for the results call to come in from the other field.

Finally a cell phone rang and after a few short words the organizer walked over to the board, without looking in our direction, and wrote the crushing 1-0 score in favor of Immaculata.

“So what does that mean?” one of the juniors asked.

“It means the worst we can do is eighth” was the halfhearted reply by a senior thereby summing up the defeatist attitude of the moment, and the boys ambled off to the van to return to the hotel to regroup before playing their next match.

About two hours later on the University of Victoria field, the boys in grey successfully shut down an energetic and confident Kelowna Christian Knights squad. The talkative team in black didn’t intimidate our Cougars as the first two goals by Nathan Hawe and Zach Friedenberger silenced the chatty Knights. The Knights picked up their game for a final push against the struggling Cougars, but a sound defensive effort kept the Knights off the score sheet and at the whistle the Cougars were back in high spirits with a 3-0 win.

Things were looking good at the start of the match when a sweet touch pass found Zach Friedenberger rushing towards the net allowing him the opportunity to hammer the ball into the onion sac for an early lead. However the Storm knew their field and patiently proceeded to put the pressure on the Cougars, who couldn’t effectively deal with the confines of a small playing surface and fell to a disheartening 1-2 loss to the Storm.

Coming home with a six place was an impressive finish for the boys who had to overcome many obstacles for the chance to be involved in the prestigious provincials tournament. Complete tournament results can be found online at; http://bcasoccerprovincials.weebly.com/index.html