By Alexis Geibelhaus
Special to the Mirror
After a long season of hard work and dedication the Senior A Girls soccer team from Carihi headed off to the AAA Island Championship this past week.
The hard work paid off, as the Tyees secured a spot at provincials byn placing second on the Island.
Carihi started well in their opening game against Spectrum when Abbie Simms calmly shot the ball into the roof of the net after Jolyn Barley fed a through-ball past the defense in the eighth minute of the game. Despite Carihi holding the lion’s share of possession, chances were few and far between. As half time approached, the score remained 1-0.
The Tyees started the second half well and after a string of passes from Carihi’s midfielders, Simms got the second goal of the game after collecting a pass from Haley Wingert. Simms found herself one on one with the keeper and calmly placed the ball into the corner of the net.
The continued pressure from the Tyees paid dividends with a third Carihi goal. A set piece corner flick from defender Alexis Giebelhaus to fellow center back Emily Dreger led to a well-placed volley into the back of the net. Carihi were able to relax a little and began to pass with a real sense of comfort. At the back, Sydney Boyle provided excellent coverage for the defenders. Spectrum who had put up an excellent fight eventually got a consolation shot in the last minute of the game with an outstanding header from a corner kick.
Meanwhile, Oak Bay defeated Spectrum 2-0 in group play later that after noon setting up a winner takes all game the next morning against Carihi.
The Tyees arrived at the new Oak Bay turf the following morning in the knowledge that everything was on the line and a win was the only way for their season to continue. The game proved to be an excellent advertisement for Senior Girls soccer.
Carihi made another very encouraging start with good movement with and without the ball. Such a strong start seemed to rock Oak Bay who seemed to be surprised by the high press delivered by Carihi. The first half left both teams with limited chances.
The Tyees did their best to subdue the wide paced players of Oak Bay who had hurt them in an earlier encounter in the season at a tournament at UBC. Not only did Carihi’s fullbacks, Kaitlyn Dreger and Megan Robertson, manage to shut down the Oak Bay wingers but they were able to stop their opponents at all levels of the field.
Carihi’s forwards Nyla Haider, Tanisha Maltilpi and Sarah Bains went into every challenge with a drive for victory and outstanding intensity. The finely-balanced contest ended the first half with the score staying at 0-0.
The second half continued with Oak Bay stepping up their game and passing with more accuracy and vision than they had shown in the first half. A number of good crosses were whipped in by Oak Bay but each time they were met by a Tyee defence showing great positional sense and a commendable level of tenacity and courage.
Oak Bay’s pressure intensified as the half continued. Midway through the second half, an Oak Bay forward hit a superb shot which headed toward the bottom right hand corner with “goal” written all over. Hayley Hunter dove spectacularly into the corner to turn it around the post. It was without doubt a match-saving moment.
Moments later, Macayla Gray made a brilliant wall pass behind the Oak Bay’s defence to Emma Skalik. Her first touch led to a beautiful shot that was saved in superb fashion by the keeper. Then Charlie Borrie fed a ball through to Skalik and her first time shot just missed the post. This was virtually the last kick of the game and the score remained nil-nil.
Penalty shots arrived and five Tyees stepped up to take the chance of sending their team to provincials. Oak bay started with first shot. They scored, as did Macayla Gray to tie up. Oak Bay’s second one was over the cross bar and Megan Robertson stepped up and, unluckily, just kissed the cross bar leaving the teams tied after two shots each.
The pressure rose and Oak Bay scored. Emily Dreger stepped up. She hit the ball hard and low to the bottom right only to be thwarted by a superb save. Advantage Oak Bay!
Oak Bay took their fourth shot and the ball was hit crisply toward the bottom left of the goal but crashed against the post and out. Carihi’s Charlie Borrie stepped up with a chance to tie the game. Borrie calmly scored putting both teams back at a tie. It was now sudden death. Unfortunately, for the Oak Bay player the ball was not hit well and Hunter made a comfortable save.
With nerves almost shredded within the Carihi squad Simms stepped up with the season on the line. Simms hit the ball into the lefthand corner and despite a brave attempt from the keeper the ball found the back of the net! Simms had possibly scored the most important goal of her life and with it, Carihi won the game in the most dramatic fashion and had made it to AAA Provincial Championship. The relief and excitement saw a flood of joyful tears and cheers.
That afternoon saw the Island final with Carihi taking on a very strong Reynolds who won 4-0. Carihi fought hard during the last game but found it tough to remain focused after such a wonderfully fought battle earlier in the day which had in truth left them a little physically, mentally and emotionally drained!
The Carihi Tyees would be taking a few days off and will return for training and preparations for their trip to Burnaby Lake May 30 – June 2.