Tyees Inara Jhawer (right, in green) drives to the Dover Bay net during the final of the Investors Group Cup at Cermaq Field on Friday. Carihi has hosted this tournament for the 22nd year. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

Carihi claims 22nd annual Investors Group Cup

Carihi played host to over 300 soccer players this past week.

Teams from the mainland and the Island vied to win the longest-running high school tournament in the province. All the teams played four games over two days. The opening game determined where each team were to progress. The winners went to the Cup side and the losing team went to the Plate side of the draw.

The Tyees entered the tournament as title holders thanks to a memorable win over Handsworth in 2017. The Tyees at that time carried a majority of Grade 12 players in their starting lineup and few expected the present team, with only two senior players, to defend their 2017 Cup win. The players, however, had other ideas as they played their best soccer of the year in a memorable two days of soccer in the sun.

The opening game saw the now almost traditional match up against Argyle Pipers of North Vancouver. Coach Jepson likes to play Argyle as they are consistently a “yard stick” for measuring performance. Although often they arrive without a full squad, they always play excellent soccer and provide a great challenge. The game proved to be an enjoyable affair which resulted in a 5-2 win for the Tyees. A remarkable effort from Grade 10 Nyla Haider saw her complete a hat trick of headers from Emma Skalik corner kicks. Skalik and the speedy Inara Jhawer completed the scoring.

The win took Carihi into the Cup side of the draw where they met Ladysmith. Another fine performance saw the local girls win a finely balanced contest by 2-1 with goals coming from Nairee Paulus and Jhawer. The scoreline could have been a little more emphatic but for some wayward finishing. Defensively, the rotating back line of Elena Skalik, Aleah Jordan, Talia Hadikin, Haley Wingert, Haider and Paulus stood strong.

Day two saw a rematch of the 2017 Cup Final with Handsworth. This proved to be the most competitive game in the Tournament for Carihi. This semi final encounter ebbed and flowed for much of the first half. Handsworth started the stronger of the two teams but failed to capitalize on their early start. The Tyees readjusted and after 10 minutes or more, got into their familiar passing style and took the lead with a fine strike by Tanisha Maltilpi. Carihi continued to pass the ball in an encouraging fashion with Kaitlyn Dreger and Charlie Borrie working tirelessly in the midfield.

Up front, Gilliane Stewartson, Tanisha Maltilpi and Jhawer worked hard to create spaces for the midfield to make passes into. Skalik and Borrie proved to be a constant threat going forward and finding these pockets of space. Handsworth were, however, well organized and quick to capitalize on any errors. Indeed, they countered in fine fashion. Handsworth scored after a free kick rebounded off the cross bar and they were quickest to react to tie the game.

The second half saw Carihi enjoy more possession than their opponents. Defensively Haider and Wingert were outstanding, ably supported by fullbacks Jolyn Barley, Avery Sorensen, Madison Knight and Paulus. It came as no surprise to hear the final whistle with the teams still level. As with last year, Carihi were faced with a PK shootout at the semi final stage. As with last year, the Tyees prevailed thanks to successful penalties from Skalik, Wingert, Haider and Paulus.

The Cup final saw Carihi take on Dover Bay who had earlier defeated Brentwood Collage in their semi final. The first half was a cagey affair with both teams failing to create too many scoring opportunities. Carihi shaded possession but it was finely balanced as the half time whistle blew.

The atmosphere changed rapidly when Carihi scored the opening goal. A fine move culminated in Jhawer whipping in a low cross which was met at the back post by Aleah Jordan. This was Jordan’s first goal as a Tyee and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Jhawer then added to her assist with an outstanding strike from the top of the 18-yard box. The Dover players seemed to visibly wilt, perhaps the second goal and hot sun had taken its toll. The remainder of the half saw Carihi dominate the play and Haider was able to add a third and Dreger a fourth in the dying seconds of the game to secure an emphatic Cup win. This was the fifth time Carihi has lifted the Cup over the 22 years and this achievement will last a long time in the memories of players and parents who were able to take in the game.

Skalik, the Tyees Captain, reflected on the tournament, saying, “Over the four years I have played in the Investors cup the competition has always been fierce. Facing off against these strong teams always brings out our teams determination to match them. This year, having a young team I wasn’t sure how we were going to match up against large schools. Through our determination, teamwork, and contribution from everyone on the team, we were able to defeat the odds and win the cup for the second year in a row.”

Coach John Jepson had some words of appreciation for tournament supporters: “The Tyees would like to thank Mr. Perras, Mr. Bodenheim and Mr. Akehurst for being field co-ordinators. We would also like to thank Mr Garraway, who has supported this tournament over the 22 years. Finally, thanks to School District 72 for their meticulous field prep and lining of the fields and the (city) Parks for the use of Cermaq turf.”

Carihi Senior Girls now head off to the North Island Tournament in Powell River this Monday and Tuesday, May 7 and 8. Hope is high that this Investors Group Cup win will provide the foundation for a push toward Island Championship qualification in what should be a highly competitive North Island Championship. The Carihi Junior Girls also have their North Island Championship playoffs this week and they travel to Nanaimo on Friday, May 4.

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Tyees captain Emma Skalik (left) begins a quick turn during Friday’s Investors Group Cup final against Dover Bay. Photo by AListair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

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