Soccer teams from schools around the Kootenays and the Okanagan descended on Nakusp over the weekend for the annual Nakusp Secondary School (NSS) Senior and Junior Boys Invitational Tournament.
The NSS Cougars kicked things off with their game against the Hope Mustangs.
The first half of the game was intense, and by halftime, the Cougars were leading against the Mustangs 1-0.
Unfortunately, clouds starting rolling in during the halftime break, but this wasn’t enough to stop the Cougars. Twice within minutes, they managed a goal, making the score 3-0.
One face on the side of the field was a familiar one for the team.
Rod Morrison, a recently retired instructor at NSS, came out of that retirement in order to coach the boys team.
“With Mr. (Ryan) Willman not being here, there wasn’t really an experienced boys coach to do it,” he said. “There is one other person that coached very briefly, but I think the boys wanted somebody who had a little more experience, so that’s why they asked me to do it.”
Morrison said that although it was their first game of the year, the boys were out there having fun and getting some exercise.
Have fun they did. The Cougars won their first game with a score or 5-0 against the Mustangs.
They weren’t so lucky with their second game. They lost against the team from Ashcroft 3-2.
Things turned around for the team during their third game, against the team from Merritt. They won with a stunning 10-0 victory.
The Cougars fourth and potentially final game was against Fort St. James.
This one proved to be a bit more challenging for the team, as Fort St. James was one of the finalists in last year’s tournament.
The team proved to be no match for the Cougars, who managed another win, becoming first in their pool.
In the tournament’s finale, the Cougars went up against the Invermere Lakers, though the Cougars almost won by default, as the Lakers were late in arriving at the field after finishing a game at Zeleznik field by the Nakusp and District Arena.
It was an intense game, almost too intense. A fight nearly broke out at one point after the goalie for the Lakers went down partway through the second half. One of the Cougars was aiming for the ball, and accidentally wound up kicking the goalie in the head. He quickly recovered, and the game resumed.
Though they tried their best, the Cougars lost 2-0 against the Lakers.
“It is what it is,” said Morrison. “That was a good Invermere team, and they were very even with them.”
Though they lost the tournament, many on the team left with high spirits.
“It was a really fun tournament, it doesn’t really matter that we got second, I still enjoy playing soccer, especially here with wall my friends,” said Kalen Jones. “They’re all my best friends, I love every single one of them, and I’m so happy to be here with them.”