It wasn’t exactly the sunniest of afternoons, but the Quesnel Denny’s U16 boys soccer team lit up the afternoon with a convincing 4-2 win over the visiting Prince George Selects.
The difference was in taking advantage of opportunities, Strikers coach Kam Dosanjh said.
“They [P.G. Selects] had their chances, but they weren’t able to finish,” Dosanjh said.
“That was the difference in the game.”
Chances indeed, as the game didn’t start off the way Dosanjh would have liked. Twice the Selects caught the Strikers flat-footed and had attackers behind the Strikers defenders for kicks on goal.
“It was just a lack of communication,” Dosanjh explained.
“Too many guys assuming a teammate was going to cover someone.”
The close calls put the Strikers on alert and they picked up their game and took advantage of their speed to score the first goal.
Strikers goalkeeper Konrad Teetzan put everything he had behind a kick that sailed straight down the middle of the field and caught the P.G. side napping, while Nick Stavast turned on the jets to catch up with the ball in front of the P.G. crease for an easy tap in to give the homeside a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game.
The goal gave the home side confidence as the Strikers continued to put on the pressure defensively and offensively, seemingly catching Prince George off guard.
The Strikers made it 2-0 halfway through the first half with a goal by Aeryk Drewcock standing at the left post and redirected a kick from the right corner.
At 2-0, Prince George turned their game up a notch and showed plenty of speed, once again catching the Strikers off-guard.
With ten minutes to play in the opening half, Prince George sent a forward streaking down the right side and he made no mistake with shot from the top of the penalty area.
The half ended with the Strikers lucky to be up 2-1. Teetzan made two big saves late in the half and Prince George had two goals disallowed by the referee as a result of offsides.
“He’s played well all year,” Dosanjh said of his keeper.
“He’s only 14, but he’s one of the better goalies in his age group.”
The second half saw the Strikers put into place a strategy following a half-time talk, a strategy that kept the Selects to the outside of the pitch.
“We’re a fast team, we needed to use our physical abilities,” Dosanjh said of the strategy.
“We weren’t winning goal kicks [in the first half], we needed to be more physical.
“We kicked it up a gear in the second half.”
In addition to relying on their speed, the Strikers choked up the middle of the field, forcing the Selects to the outside.
“That made the biggest difference,” Dosanjh said.
“We knew they couldn’t hurt us from the outside.”
The Strikers added to their lead with about 15 minutes to play when D. J. O’Neill scored what proved to be the eventual winner when he kicked the ball off the inside of the left post with a shot from just inside the right edge of the penalty area.
Ben Johannesen used his speed to give the Strikers a 4-1 lead when he out-hustled the Prince George keeper to a loose ball for an easy chip in from a few metres out with less than 10 minutes to play.
Prince George rounded out the scoring on a shot from the slot that left Teetzan with little chance for the save.
“All in all it was a good game,” Dosanjh said.
“It could have gone either way.”