The Quesnel Strikers U16 team are BC Soccer Youth Provincial B-Cup champs after going unbeaten in a Burnaby tournament last weekend (July 4-7).
They bested Kelowna 3-1 in the final, courtesy of a Ruby Nicholas hat trick.
Quesnel’s Nicholas, who is also known for her long distance running capabilities, scored 10 of the club’s 15 goals in the tournament.
Williams Lake’s Brityn Hinsche played marvelously in net, only letting in one goal in the four games they played.
In the club’s first outing, the faced off against the Shuswap on Thursday and came away with a 0-0 draw.
“It was weird,” said head coach Jim Nicholas. “We tied them, but then the teams we hammered after that actually beat them.”
With the kinks out of the system for the talented team, they played Vancouver United on Friday and gave them a walloping. The final score was 5-0, with Nicholas contributing four markers and Nancy Moore of Prince George scoring one.
The Strikers kept the momentum going on Saturday with a 7-0 win over the hometown Burnaby team. Nicholas potted a hat trick in that match too, while Moore scored two and Quesnel’s Reese Jacobson beat the opposing keeper as well.
The final was a foregone conclusion by the time Sunday rolled around, as the team was too hot to be cooled down. Although Kelowna was able to sneak a ball past Hinsche, there was little doubt who the best team was.
“We didn’t just squeak a gold there,” said coach Nicholas, “We really deserved the gold and really dominated.”
Although the team is the Quesnel Strikers, the majority of the players come from Prince George.
As such, they have access to some top-level coaching courtesy of co-coach of the Strikers Jo Wankling, who is also assistant coach of the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC)team, and Neil Sedgwick, who is the head coach of the UNBC squad.
“Fourteen [members of the team] practise regularly with Neil and Jo, who are a lot more experienced as coaches than I am,” said Nicholas. “They have put a lot into the girls over the years.”
The most credit goes to the girls themselves for some well-played soccer, however. Nicholas said they were able to move the ball well, spread the field strategically and expose their opponents’ weaknesses when given the opportunity.
While their U13 counterparts did not fare as well, finishing in eighth place out of eight teams, they can have a glimmer of hope knowing their older contingent were in the same boat when they were the same age.
“It’s bittersweet with the young girls losing, but that’s a work in progress,” said Nicholas. “There is some consolation knowing that while there has been personnel come and go, the same U16 girls team also placed last in the provincials three short years ago.”
Thursday: Vancouver United Pumas 6-0 Quesnel
Friday: Coastal FC 2-1 Quesnel
Saturday: Nelson Selects 2-0 Quesnel
Sunday: Burnaby 2-0 Quesnel
Thursday: Shuswap 0-Quesnel 0
Friday: Quesnel 5-Vancouver United 0
Saturday: Quesnel 7-Burnaby 0
Sunday (final): Quesnel 3-Kelowna 1