Blue Jags Kickoff Season at the Best of the Best
The Senior girls soccer season kicked off with a tournament at GW Graham Secondary in Chilliwack. In the first game against Lord Tweedsmuir, the girls started off slow but by the second half had hit their stride. A goal by Lisa Evans secured a 1-0 win. The next two games were hard-fought against Sardis and Elgin Park. The girls played great soccer but wound up losing 1-0 and 2-0, respectively.
This put the team in third place in our pool and meant an 8:00 am game on Saturday morning against WJ Mouat from Abbotsford. The team played their best soccer yet but found themselves down 1-0 at half time. They continued their exceptional play and battled back to tie the game 1-1. The tying goal was a great strike by Lisa Evans off a perfect cross by Lauren Kipp, which put the game into extra time. At the end of extra time it was still tied, forcing penalty shots. Olivia deGoede made three amazing saves, and Laura Dale and Kelsey Harbord scored to secure a much-deserved win.
The fifth and final game was against LV Rogers from Nelson. With extremely tired legs the girls played exceptionally well. With a minute to go, there was no score and it was looking like extra time again when LV Rogers managed to put one home to win 1-0. Tournament MVP was Kelsey Harbord who played almost every minute of all five games and worked tirelessly in centre midfield.
This was a great start to the season for the team to play against quality competition early on (all the teams we played, with the exception of LV Rogers, are AAA schools). The season looks bright indeed for this talented squad.
Senior Boys Rugby
Both the Senior Rugby 1st and 2nd XVs played their first matches in the Island Premier league competition, hosting GP Vanier from Courtenay.
The 1sts, already riddled by injury and non-availability, took the field without tight head prop Masaki Kunimoto, lock Neil Hayden and captain John Humphries, centre Mike Fuailefau, and fullback Beau Parker. Within minutes, it was clear that the visiting Towhees would present a very strong challenge, with their large and aggressive forward pack winning most of the close quarter skirmishes.
Fortunately, very much against the run of play, a teasing chip kick from Jure Erlic, who played extremely well in midfield, opened up the visiting defence. After a subsequent series of neat offloads, right wing Kevin Lin scampered in for the game’s first try. A Tom Bridger conversion then put the score to 7-0.
Heartened by this turn of events, the team again put some efficient passages of play together, with a multi-phase move resulting in a tally for scrum half Sasha Gray. However, this 12-0 halftime advantage was soon negated, as Vanier drove a series of rucks and mauls to score immediately after the break. Somewhat fortuitously, a botched restart then allowed SMUS an undeserved attacking position, with a sweeping back move allowing wing Marc van der Wal to squeeze in at the corner flag.
Vanier came back strongly on attack and came very close to scoring on three occasions. The visitors did manage one final converted score, but this was cancelled out by a superb individual effort from flanker Luke McCloskey, who gathered a loose kick some 40m from the Vanier line and then showed good pace and decision making to split the defence. With this fourth try, in a contest that finished 24-12 to SMUS, also came a vital bonus point.
The 2nd XVs did not enjoy the same clear skies, and indeed, played most of their game in pouring rain. However, the players for producing a most entertaining spectacle, by virtue of scoring three tries to two, with the visitors ending up on top 17-15. For SMUS, prop Richard Boness, lock Robbie Trussler, centre Steve Meng, and fullback Charlie Southwell all performed well.
Both SMUS teams now look forward to hosting Brentwood College on Thursday, April 9. The 2nd XV match will kickoff at 2:30 pm, with the 1st XV to follow at 3:45 pm.
In other rugby news, Mike Fuailefau has been in fine form for Canada U17 in past weeks, starting at outside centre in a match against Cardiff Blues U17. The national team will then travel to England for the prestigious Millfield Festival, with matches against USA, Wales and Portugal. The influential Fuailefau will then return to SMUS on April 13, and look to rejoin the SMUS 1st XV for an important match at Shawnigan on April 16.
In alumni rugby news, SMUS grads Jess Kliman, Andrew Crow and Sam Skulsky all took part in the recent national U20 tour to New Zealand. All three acquitted themselves well in the most demanding of environments. They now look to the final domestic training camp, April 30-May 3 at Shawnigan. From this, the final 26 player roster for the U20 World Cup, to be held in Japan, will be selected. Canada’s pool opponents are Australia, Wales and Tonga.
Junior Boys B Soccer
The Junior Boys B soccer squad kicked off their season Wednesday with a match against Esquimalt’s A team. Playing together for the first time in a game situation, the lads really rose to the challenge. With a little bit of luck, and a lot of hard work, they held their opponents to a scoreless tie until the last minutes of the first half, when an Esquimalt striker managed to split the defence and score at point-blank range.
Led by the experienced Goven Sandhu, Aidan Stewart and Robert Wyatt, the defensive line tackled hard. Esquimalt managed to score only once more, in the second half of the game, lobbing the ball into the net below the cross bar, mere inches from the fingers of keeper Connor Thomson. This 0-2 result does not accurately reflect the strong performance of our boys, who nearly scored on several occasions.
Building on effective throw-ins from defender Logan Gilmore, midfielders Marcel Sanati and James Keech were able to push the ball forward with some beautifully accurate passes. They were ably assisted by American sensation, Peter Harrison, who dominated the centre midfield with his tough tacking. Up front, the dynamic duo of Jonty Considine and Liam Maclure, fresh from the basketball court, collaborated repeatedly, striking fear into the Esquimalt defensive line. In the latter minutes, Boris Trinajstic added his aggressive energy to the forward line, and seemed to be everywhere at once.
The coaches were impressed with this first effort, and look forward to even greater performances as the season progresses, and as the lads come together as a team.
Senior Boys Basketball
Many SMUS athletes will be attending various BC Regional developments camps in the next few weeks. One such event took place this past weekend, with some 45 Grade 9 boys from all over the Island competing for a place on a Victoria/UVic Vikes summer team. Congratulations to Liam Maclure, Joe Erlic and Derek Hyde-Lay, all of whom were selected. Lewis Liu was also very much in the mix, and awaits his opportunity on a second U15 team, due to be formed shortly.
Two touring teams from Calgary finished their time on the Island with games against the SMUS field hockey team at GNS on Saturday. For the SMUS athletes, it was a chance to pick up their sticks for the first time since October’s high school season and play in some warm sunshine in front of an appreciative crowd.
Both matches were very competitive, but without several key players, SMUS were unable to press home the massive territorial advantage against Bowness High School in the afternoon. In the morning, against a very strong Western Canada High School, the girls played extremely well, but came up a little short. Considering the rustiness of playing out of season, and with several players missing, these were two very respectable performances. Standouts were Steffi Duvenage in defence as well as Kirsten MacLeod and Emma Abrioux in midfield. It was good to see Melissa Bosworth back to her old self after many months of rehab from a knee injury sustained 18 months ago.
Now the spring season is in full swing, the girls will be playing indoor hockey on Wednesday nights, and preparing for Blue Mountain GS from Australia in two weeks time.