Fresh from capturing both the Island AA title and the May Tully Shield, the Senior girls field hockey team headed to Oliver to play in the BC AA Provincial Championships. For the first time in many years, the event was played on grass fields, which meant adapting to a different style of play. Undeterred, SMUS, behind the goal scoring prowess of Olivia Donald, Aveen Glen and Kasey Boyle, and backstopped by goalie Mia Roberts, comfortably defeated Okanagan Mission 2-0, Little Flower Academy 2-0, and GW Graham 3-0.
These wins led to a quarter-final game against L.V. Rogers, a strong, physical team from Nelson. However, goals from Donald and Anna Mollenhauer, and a fourth consecutive shutout by Roberts, propelled an increasingly confident SMUS squad into a semi-final matchup against arch rival Collingwood School, a nemesis in recent heartbreaking BC semifinal defeats.
In a highly entertaining encounter which belied the score, SMUS played one of its most complete games of the season, dominating possession, territory and scoring chances. Yet, the contest remained scoreless after regulation, and also after sudden death overtime. A dreaded shootout was then required to decide the winner. Fortunately, goals from Glen, Chloe Keeler-Young and Flora Staunau, and more wonderfully athletic goalkeeping from Roberts, saw SMUS exorcise its semifinal demons from the past two years to squeak through 3-2. Needless to say, the players were elated, though they had thoroughly deserved the victory, given their commitment, physical approach and self-belief.
The final matched SMUS against Crofton House, who also secured their spot in the final with another semifinal shootout. Unfortunately, with the BC title at stake, on this occasion one goal did decide the game. From a scramble in the circle, a Crofton attacker managed to swat a bouncing ball into the corner of the net. The Blue Jags tried desperately to claw their way back but could not find the equalizer.
Nonetheless, the silver medal represented SMUS’ best provincial finish for some time, and along with many other successes, confirmed a very fine season. In particular, the senior group of Kasey Boyle, Rylee Boyle, Jamie Boyle, Rebecca Bosworth, Emma Loughton, Siri Knudsen and Aline Halliday not only played well but set an even better example. Looking ahead, a talented returning core will carry the mantle next year and beyond, with an aim to become provincial champions. Vivat!
Closer to home, Senior boys soccer traveled to Nanaimo to compete in the Island AA tournament. Unbeaten on the season, SMUS entered as definite favourites, though matched against a well-balanced group of North zone teams.
Indeed, any ideas that the Blue Jags would ease through this BC AA qualifier were given a rude jolt in the opening match, when a feisty Carihi team proved to be a worthy opponent. While Callum Montgomery staked SMUS to a 1-0 lead late in the first half, the Tyees equalized shortly after and then could easily have gone ahead when a dangerous strike cannoned back off the cross bar. Fortunately, Brian Im got loose in the 57th minute to notch the go-ahead goal, before Matty McColl pounced on a rebound minutes later to secure a hard-fought 3-1 victory.
The team then produced a much-improved effort versus Ballenas, dominating territory and possession to a 5-0 win. Im recorded a hat trick, while McColl and Montgomery added singles. Ben Edwards gave a very tidy performance in goal to record the shutout.
In a most unusual scenario, these two results, given other tied games in the pool, saw SMUS clinch first place in its group and so qualify for the tournament final. Therefore, the Blue Jags opted to rest the majority of the starters versus Gulf Islands, losing 2-0. The Scorpions managed two early goals and then held on fairly comfortably for the remaining hour.
The tournament final matched SMUS versus Brooks of Powell River. Though missing centre-back Michelangelo Cernucan to an ankle injury, the team coped comfortably to win 3-1. Again controlling the ball for long periods of time and dominating territory, the team engineered numerous chances and forced multiple corner kicks. Eventually, the pressure told, with Im opening the scoring. Then the influential Kieran Large calmly slotted home from the top of the box, before McColl finished off an accurate cross.
With the result no longer in doubt, both teams, tired from four games in 24 hours, slowed down play in the final quarter. Brooks, from a scramble in the box, did have the satisfaction of scoring one last-minute consolation goal.
With the win, SMUS claimed the Island AA crown and a possible top seed at the upcoming BC AA tournament, to be held November 17-19 in Burnaby. Before then, however, comes the Colonist Cup clash with Oak Bay, set for a 7:30 pm start on November 12 at UVic’s Centennial Stadium. SMUS is live streaming the game online at www.smus.ca/live. The October 23 league game between the two keen rivals produced a highly entertaining 4-4 draw.
You can browse and download more photos of the Senior boys soccer team at the Island AA tournament at the SMUS Photo Gallery.
The Blue Jags also took part in the Junior Island Soccer tournament, held November 3-4 in Courtenay.
In driving rain, but on the lovely new G.P. Vanier turf, the Junior boys soccer team ground out a 3-1 win over Woodlands, highlighted by a wonderful solo goal by Aidan Kerr. Then came a very tight affair against Oak Bay, with the teams battling back and forth to a 1-1 tie.
Given other pool results, SMUS then needed just a draw against local favourite Mark Isfeld to advance to the tournament final. Unfortunately, the host team started strong, and only some sparkling saves by Jasper Bosley kept the score to 1-0 at halftime.
SMUS then went on the offensive, with Ben Wingert coming close after a fine buildup. But it was not meant to be. The Ice moved ahead 2-0, and while Finn Goodyear halved the deficit with a late strike, it was too little, too late. Even worse, this first defeat of the season condemned the Blue Jags, on goal differential, to third place in the pool and a last game versus Frances Kelsey for fifth place.
In this encounter, Kelsey actually led 2-1 midway through the second half before SMUS came back with a pair of goals to secure the victory.
While the players were very disappointed not to have reached the Island final, they may be justifiably proud of their work this season. For a relatively inexperienced group, they far exceeded expectations in not only compiling 14 wins and two draws from 17 matches, but also solidifying the depth of school soccer for the future. Great job!
The Senior girls volleyball team hosts the AA Island Championships at SMUS, November 14-15. The girls enter the tournament ranked third. The top two teams will qualify for the 2014 Senior Girls AA Volleyball Provincial Championship at Brentwood November 27-29. A third team will qualify for the wild card tournament in Vancouver on November 22. We’re looking forward to seeing strong team play and leadership from all team members. Good luck, Blue Jags!
(photos by Yao Cui and David Kerr)