The Carihi girls soccer team took second at the Vancouver Island championships.

Campbell River girls off to soccer provincials

Carihi secures spot at Vancouver Island tourney

The Carihi Senior Girls Soccer team are off to their 12th provincial championships after defying the odds and securing second place at the AA Island championship in Victoria.

Having lost six starters last season, at the start of the season the team was targeting an appearance at the Island championship. However, the Tyees started comtemplating the provincials after winning their own 23rd Annual IVG Cup last month.

The Tyees went into the Island championship ranked as the sixth-seeded team out of eight. Their first opponents were second-rank Shawnigan Lake School. The opening 20 minutes saw Carihi play in a smooth and confident manner. Many strong attacking plays were initiated out of the midfield of Emma Skalik, Kaityn Dreger and Charlie Borrie. Shawnigan came more into the game after the opening 20 and the latter part of the first half saw a balanced game. Meanwhile, the younger players in the squad were also stepping up and playing hard.

“Coming into the first game I was looking forward to playing with more experienced players but very nervous. As we settled into the play, the nerves turned into excitement,” said Grade 8 Gillianne Stewardson.

At half-time, the score remained 0-0. The second half saw increased pressure from Carihi, with Shawnigan continuing toplay “out of the back.” Eventually, the Carihi press worked and Tanisha Maltilpi was able to capitalize on a loose ball to score the game opener. Six minutes later, Inara Jhawer scored and Nyla Haider made it three with nine minutes remaining. Overall, it was a first-class opening game with Grade 10 Haley Wingert saying, “Our team was like a well-oiled machine. We were so pleased that our passing was precise and accurate. We knew the first game would kick-start the whole tournament.” Meanwhile in the other game in the group Francis Kelsey surprised third-ranked Royal Bay defeating them 1-0.

Royal Bay were then lined up to face Carihi knowing a defeat or draw would literally crush any hope of a provincial berth. The game of soccer saw two evenly matched sides intent on passing the ball, with the play ebbing and flowing as each team enjoyed good spells of possession. Royal Bay seemed to create the better chances, and Tyee keeper Tory Stewart showed good hands to prevent a number of half chances.

Defensively, Wingert, Stewardson, Nairee Paulus and Jolyn Barley worked incredibly hard to both win and retain the ball. In the second half, Carihi had a little more of the ball but failed to create scoring opportunities. As time ticked away it looked like the Tyees would secure a precious point, but a lightning-fast Royal Bay counter attack resulted in a fine shot and ultimately the winning goal. As Wingert said, “The second game was intense, as we all knew that if we won it we would be in a good spot to make provincials. We all fought hard to win that game, but we were a little unfortunate.”

In the other group game Francis Kelsey came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the final minutes. This result placed Francis Kelsey at the top of the group on four points, Royal Bay in second on three points and above Carihi also on three by virtue of their win over the Tyees . Shawnigan Lake were still in with a slender chance finishing day one on one point.

The next morning, in the crucial game between Francis Kelsey and Carihi, the Tyees needed to win be guaranteed a fourth game and keep alive the hopes of the provincial berth. The Carihi girls could not have played any better. In the opening 10 minutes they camped in the Francis Kelsey half, hitting a crossbar, the post twice and forcing three good saves from their opponent’s keeper. As captain, Skalik said, “Knowing that the third game could be our last was nerve-wracking. We knew that to advance to the next game we needed to beat Francis Kelsey. Once the whistle blew, all the nerves went away and everyone played to their fullest. With a contribution from everyone on the field, we were able to string together nice passes which created multiple scoring opportunities.”

Incredibly, on the one occasion Francis Kelsey moved into the Carihi half, they scored from the resulting corner, giving them a 1-0 lead at the half, despite total dominance for the tireless Tyees.

In the 15th minute of the second half, Skalik made a typical drive to goal, fending off numerous challenges. It seemed the chance was lost as the ball bobbled along the six yard box, but Skalik dug even deeper and managed to get a vital flick on the ball to draw the teams level.

The Tyees had 20 minutes to keep their hopes alive. They had no intention of giving up and their constant pressure paid off with nine minutes to go, as Jhawer cut in from the right and sent in a fine left-footed drive over the head of the keeper to give Carihi the lead, and ultimately victory.

With the hard-working Shawnigan Lake team holding the talented Royal Bay to a goalless draw, Carihi ended winning the group and an automatic berth to the 2018 Senior Girls Soccer High School Provincial Championship.

“Suffering an unfortunate loss the day prior, we stepped on to the pitch the next day knowing we would have to win in order to compete for a birth to provincials. Initially we were high strung, and filled with anxious emotions but we quickly settled in and dominated the game,” said Paulus.

This was only the second time in school history that a Tyees side has earned a trip to the provincials in three consecutive years, the last time being in 1996 through 1998. The 1996 team was the first girls team to qualify for a provincial championship, and this year will see a return to the same venue of McArthur Park. In total this will be the 12th appearance in a provincial championship, with the best finish at Kamloops in 2010 when the Tyees reached the final, losing in a dramatic penalty shootout.

The provincial tournament starts May 31 and updates can be found at http://2018aagirlssoccer.weebly.com/hotels.html

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