The Nelson Selects won nearly every division they played in at the annual Sam Steele Days tournament in Cranbrook on June 21 and 22.
“Our teams did fantastic,” said regional head coach Brett Adams. “It wasn’t just the fact that they won the games. It was the way they did it. They did it the right way.”
Adams said one game in particular sticks out in his mind. The U-15 girls went up against Cranbrook and came out with a 5-0 victory.
“It was everything you could ask for in a performance. They gave it. They hardly gave the ball away. They kept possession, which is rare in any age group. They attacked in numbers and it was frequent attacking,” he said.
The girls fired 17 shots on goal, which Adams estimates to be twice the average.
Adams said the teams are coming together as a unit. The skills and strategies he’s been trying to install through the Whitecaps’ Kootenay Academy Centre are started to be evidenced on field.
“We’ve been working on getting the teams to build the ball from the back. Lots of team we come up against like to kick and run, punt down from the goalkeeper. But we were passing it. The performances were energetic,” said Adams.
“All our teams looked like teams. They were gelling out there.”
The U-13 girls started off the tournament by besting the Kootenay Rovers 2-1 early on Saturday morning. They handily defeated the CV Titans later that afternoon 5-1.
Bright and early on Sunday morning the girls defeated the KSYSA Storm 5-3. Their final game against the Creston Blitz ended with a score of 3-0, securing their gold.
The U-14 girls competed against the U-15 squads, ultimately coming up against their older compatriots. They lost their first game against the KSYSA Storm 5-4, but bounced back to win 1-0 over Fernie United.
Meanwhile, Nelson’s U-15 girls beat the U-14 girls 1-0 and the CV Titans 2-0, which won them gold.
The U-17 girls started Saturday with a tidy 2-0 win over the KSYSA Saints and followed it with a devastating 4-0 victory over the CV Titans. On Sunday they returned to beat the MUSC Evolution 2-0. Their final game against the CV Titans resulted in an identical score to the day before: 4-0.
One outstanding player was Naomi Perkins, who scored a hat trick in the final for Nelson.
“She was a frequent scorer throughout,” said Adams.
On the boy’s side, the U-13 squad had a disappointing weekend. They didn’t score any goals on Saturday, losing 3-0 and 4-0. When they returned on Sunday they lost 8-1 to the KSYSA Storm.
The U-14 boys tied up their first game against the Kootenay Rovers 2-2 on Saturday. They defeated the KSYSA Storm 1-0 later that afternoon. On Sunday the Selects lost to the Coaldale Thunder 4-2, but bounced back to win 1-0 against the same team a few hours later.
The U-16 boys tied with the Kootenay Rovers for their first game 1-1, then narrowly squeaked by with a 1-0 win over the KSYSA Storm. On Sunday they returned for a 2-0 win over the Creston Blitz and a 2-0 win over the Kootenay Rovers.
Finally, the U-18 boys tied their first game against the Creston Blitz 1-1, and went scoreless in a 0-0 tie with the Columbia Valley Titans. However, they beat the Kootenay Rovers 1-0 on Sunday.
That set up a rematch against the Titans. The squads played to a 1-1 tie after regulations, but Nelson pulled out the win, and the gold, in a shootout.
Adams said the teams are in good shape going into provincials. The girls’ teams will be heading to Chilliwack, while the boys teams will compete in Vancouver.
“The goal I’d say is don’t leave anything out there on the field. When you come off the field look at your team and say we did everything we can,” he said.
“You build up to these moments. You want to go back to Nelson knowing you gave it your best shot.”