The Frances Kelsey Breakers will get a shot at returning to the provincial AA girls soccer championships.
The Breakers, who made their first trip to provincials in 2017, earned a berth at the Island championship by finishing in the top three at one of the two separate North Island qualifiers held earlier this week, and will play next week for a spot in the 2018 provincial tourney.
The North Island tournament was supposed to be held in Powell River on Monday and Tuesday, but when one team dropped out, the coaches decided it would just be easier to have two smaller qualifiers, so Kelsey, Shawnigan Lake School, Brentwood College School and Ballenas Secondary held their own, with three Island berths on the line.
The Breakers opened the tournament against Ballenas, and went up 3-0 in the first 20 minutes on their way to a 5-3 victory.
“To be honest, everything went in,” Kelsey coach Brian Johnston said. “We probably had seven chances [in the game] and seven went in. We finished very well.”
Ballenas scored just before halftime to make it 3-1, and made it 4-3 with about five minutes left to play before Kelsey added some insurance. Niki Leech scored twice in the match, and Emerald White, Robyn Zinkan and Rowan Parker had one goal apiece.
“It was a good match for us, for sure,” Johnston said. “The whole team played well, the Grade 12s in particular.”
The Grade 12 contingent includes White, Zinkan, Danielle Wince, Kristen Banasch, Mackenzie Johnston and goalkeeper MacKenna Posey.
Kelsey next faced a strong Shawnigan team. Leech opened the scoring with an early goal from about 30 yards out, but Shawnigan came back to pull ahead 2-1 in the second half. It wasn’t until the last play of stoppage time that Kelsey scored again, when Grade 9 player Taylor Johnston fought through the Shawnigan centre backs and hit a shot from about 20 yards to earn the tie. That result, combined with Ballenas’s win over Brentwood at the same time, guaranteed that Kelsey, Shawnigan and Ballenas would go to Islands, eliminating Brentwood.
Kelsey and Brentwood still played their scheduled match to wrap up the qualifier, both teams giving their younger players a lot of time on the pitch. Brentwood prevailed 2-1, with Leech potting Kelsey’s lone goal.
Notable players for Kelsey at the qualifier included Grade 8s Taya Brubacher and Georgia McLean, who held their own against players three and four years older.
“They both played well throughout the tournament,” Johnston said. “It was good to see how they stacked up against older players.”
Kelsey and Shawnigan will be in a pool with Royal Bay and Carihi at the Island tournament in Victoria next Monday and Tuesday, and Johnston believes the provincial berths could go to anyone.
“I’d say it will be very close,” the coach said. “Any team could come first to eighth.”
Kelsey’s junior girls team, which is also coached by Johnston, qualified for their Island tournament by beating Brentwood 1-0 in their league final after going 5-0 during the season. The Breakers opted to hand their Islands berth to Brentwood.
Any player in Grade 8-10 who gets called up to a senior girls qualifier is ineligible, and several of Kelsey’s juniors also play for their senior team, meaning the younger team would be shorthanded at Islands.