A sideline packed with fans cheered for their respective teams in Courtenay on Saturday as the Riptide U14 Girls soccer team took on the Nanaimo Storm in the Island final of BC Cup play.
In an intensely demanding game, Riptide secured the win in a shootout, earning a berth to the Coastal Cup in April and the Provincial ‘A Cup’ Finals in July.
After advancing to the Island final on Feb. 21 with a convincing 5-0 win against Gorge/Lakehill, Riptide was up against tough competition Saturday with the Storm franchise which draws players from the Nanaimo and central island region.
Riptide coach Jim Stewart commented, “Statistically, the Storm was a close match to us defensively and, although we had beaten them in our last two meetings during league play, we knew it would be a challenge, as always, to penetrate their backline. We expected a defensive battle and that’s exactly what we got.”
A defensive battle perhaps, but this was an exciting game from start to finish with each team taking turns with the momentum of play. The game was a scoreless draw at the end of regulation and was headed for overtime.
But 20 minutes of tense, heart-stopping OT action resolved nothing. Both teams had chances to end it in overtime but the defensive play was flawless on this day and it became clear that this game was destined to be settled by a penalty kick shootout.
After missing their first shot and falling behind 1-0, Riptide snipers Aisha Hunter-Bellavia, Ciara Halvorson, and Frédérica Blouin-Comeau each picked three different corners of the net, giving the Storm’s netminder no chance.
Riptide’s keeper Nicolette Vinnedge made three big consecutive saves, ending the best-of-five shootout after only four rounds. It was an intense way to end a final, and an equally joyful win for Riptide.
“Our girls have improved tremendously throughout this season and we are riding an eight-game winning streak which includes seven clean sheets,” commented Stewart. Stewart and his co-coaches, Matt Laver and Lisa Wigard, expressed extreme pride in what their team has accomplished this season, noting, “There’s lots of soccer still to play.”
With this victory, the Riptide U14 Girls team has extended its season by four more months. They’re off to the Mayors Cup in Surrey this weekend, then in April they will play for the Coastal Cup. Their season will finally wrap up this July with the Provincial ‘A Cup’ Finals in South Surrey.
Then, after a brief one-month break, the Riptide will start all over again in August with pre-season training for the 2015/16 season. For information and updates on the Riptide U14 Girls soccer team, sponsored by Lacasse Construction, visit the team’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/riptide2001girls
– Riptide U14 Girls