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Isfeld junior boys one shot from Island championship
The junior boys soccer team from Mark R. Isfeld Secondary finished in second place in Vancouver Island earlier this month, the highest finish for a North Island team in more than 10 years.
After a strong year that saw 38 boys involved in the program, fielding two strong teams, one finishing first in their league and the other fourth, the boys lost in heartbreaking fashion to Brentwood College in the seventh round of a shootout at the Island Championships on Victoria.
The Isfeld team featured players in Grades 8 through 10 with a range of abilities and from various countries. Six international players were part of the team. The team began training when in September and set winning the Island Championship as their goal. The league consists of eight teams from Powell River, Campbell River, Port Alberni and the Comox Valley. At the North Island Championships which is for the top four teams from the North Island and the top four from Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum, the Isfeld team won all four games outscoring their opponents 18-1. The top three teams (Isfeld, Carihi High, and Brooks) from this tournament qualified for the Island Championships.
St. Michael's University School hosted the tourney which featured the three teams from the North Island, the Central Island Champions Brentwood, and the top four teams from the South Island: St. Michael's, Reynolds, Glen-Lyon Norfolk House and Claremont. Every game was competitive but the Isfeld team overwhelmed their opponents on the first day of competition scoring five goals against both Claremont and Brooks.
Isfeld was in tough against Reynolds. A would put Isfeld into the final against Brentwood. All teams at this tournament were very skilled, but this game really put two of the most skilled teams against each other. Reynolds scored early and for the first time all season, the Isfeld team was trailing. This did not deter the team and they continued to increase their work and intensity as the game went on. In the second half the Isfeld team began to exert its will on the game and they scored two goals to put themselves into the final.
In the final right before half-time, Brentwood penetrated the Isfeld defence and their striker made a perfect strike to put them ahead. At half-time the boys were in shock, but not deterred and redoubled their efforts in the second half but could not penetrate the stifling Brentwood defence. With a minute left to go in the game Isfeld pulled goalie Michael Girard and sent everyone forward. With 30 seconds to play, fullback Nicholas Samsom found the ball and struck it into the goal to tie the game. Two overtime periods solved nothing so the teams were forced into a shootout. Despite Girard's three saves, the team lost in the seventh round of the shootout.
"It's a heartbreaking loss," said coach, Spencer Ball. "When you know the work, passion and energy that these boys poured into this season, and to come up just short, it's hard to take. The level of soccer at this tournament was outstanding and the boys played incredibly well."