The Marine Harvest Upper Island U18 Girls Riptide soccer team are league champions.
In a fantastic final against the second place team, the Nanaimo Storm, the Riptide came out on top with a 2-1 victory to earn a birth to the provincial championship in July in Richmond.
“I told the girls before the game against Nanaimo, win or lose, I have reached my personal goals which were to keep 18 girls happy and to move players on to the next level (university, college, women’s soccer), but I said the coaching staff is here to help you reach yours,” said Head Coach Scott Harris.
It was a long awaited game, as an appeal by a Victoria team to BC soccer to overturn a ruling of playing out of district players was accepted at the 11th hour.
The successful appeal meant that Nanaimo had to play the Victoria team before the final could be played. Nanaimo won this game handily, but because of spring break it meant a delay to when the final could be played.
Saturday, April 14 saw the two best teams on Vancouver Island play.
Nanaimo scored early to take a 1-0 lead, but the Riptide were able to break through in the last 10 minutes of the game, thanks to Port Hardy’s Kaleigh Harris scoring the tying goal.
In the last minute of the game, the Riptide got a free kick just outside the Nanaimo box and made the best of it with a rebound off the cross bar that got buried into the back of the net by Campbell River’s Maddy Stevens.
The win meant the Riptide girls went undefeated for the season and were off to play the best in Vancouver.
There was no sitting around, as the Riptide had to play a Vancouver team the next day. April 15 was the beginning of the Coastal Cup and was a ¼ final match.
The Riptide played Delta Selects on tired legs and started slow, but the games was tied 2-2 at the half.
The girls picked it up from there and cut right through the Selects, winning 6-2. Port Hardy’s Mady Harris was a major factor in the game, scoring and creating many opportunities for her teammates.
With that win, the Riptide now play in the semi finals of the Coastal Cup.
Harris was extremely proud of his team and how they were able to overcome adversity and compete at this level, stating, “The key goal at the beginning of the season was to win gold at provincials. We are on our way.”