The Ladysmith Spartans soccer team is gearing up for the U-15 Boys League Championship tournament this coming weekend (March 10-11) in Nanaimo.
Finishing the regular season in fifth place with a 5-7 record, they face an admittedly difficult road to the final, but they’re not lacking in confidence.
Their first game of the weekend is against the Oceanside El Diablos, a team that narrowly edged the Spartans twice this season.
“We feel that we’re very evenly matched with the Diablos. They beat us by a single goal in both league games, but a friendly game a few weeks ago ended in a 3-3 draw,” said coach Mike Rankin.
“In the tournament, anything can happen, and we’re going to rise to the occasion. We have a dozen players on this team that won the U-13 championship last year, so these guys know how to win when it counts.”
But a victory against the Diablos only makes the climb to the top steeper, as the winner must play the Nanaimo Black Ops — the undefeated No.1 team in the league — later that day.
The Spartans won’t be intimidated, however.
“We’re taking this tournament one game at a time, so we’re focused on the Diablos, but I think that, if we win that first game, the emotion of winning and the confidence it will give us will carry over into the Black Ops game. They’re a great team and very well coached, but I think we can give them a run for their money if we get the chance to play them,” said Rankin.
“We’ve got our full squad, everyone’s healthy, and we’ve been improving every week. We’re very excited to see how well we can do this weekend.”
The Spartans won’t be the only team wearing the blue jerseys of the Mid-Isle Soccer Association in action this weekend.
In the U-15 Girls League Championships, the Cedar Hurricanes and the Ladysmith 49ers, who finished the regular season in first and second place respectively, will battle for top spot in their tournament as well.
And closer to home, the U-13 Boys and Girls League Championship is being held in Ladysmith, both at Forrest Field and Ladysmith Secondary School.
Kathleen Nicholl’s Avalanche finished third in the girls’ league, while Garth Buffie’s Vipers ended up sixth in the regular season on the boys’ side. Both coaches anticipate a great weekend of soccer.