Nakusp managed to put last week’s weird weather behind and brought out bluebird skies to frame some stellar soccer action at the Nakusp Invitational Soccer Tournament. Junior and senior soccer teams from around the province visited Cougar territory to try and vie for footy glory, pitting their guts against each other in a flurry of bouncing ponytails and colourful cleats.
The Nakusp senior squad, coached by Rhonda Palmer and Jay Gardner, began the tournament with the challenging task of fighting through Ft. Saint James and Oliver to reach the top of their pool. In the first match the Cougars battled hard to maintain a 1-1 draw against Ft. Saint James.
The determination of our girls forced the game into a shoot out, and Kailee Reimer proved the quality of her mettle by turning away three out of five blistering shots from the penalty mark. Kaliee’s solid performance combined with our shooters success at finding the corners of the net earned the girls a big confidence-boosting win.
The next game against Oliver quickly developed into the “Cougar Show” as the girls fell into a cohesive style of play and became unstoppable with crisp solid teamwork. It was certainly a thing of magic to watch the seniors come together as a squad with speed complimenting agility, as Nakusp continually found gaps in the Oliver defensive line. Ellen Weatherhead contributed to the 4-1 stomping by finishing off sweet through-ball passes from her teammates, earning herself a hat trick.
With the pool won, the Cougars moved onto Saturday’s matches starting with a bout against Kimberly. Kimberly earned their spot on the pitch against the Cougars by beating Ashcroft and Trail in their pool. Teamwork was pitted against teamwork and Nakusp found themselves outplayed, falling to Kimberly in a disheartening 4-0 loss. Kimberly moved on to play Rossland in the final and battled their way to first place in the tournament.
Nakusp faced off against Creston for a third or fourth placing and quickly found themselves in a street fight of a match. Each team ran their hearts out, but it was Creston that managed to find the back of the onion sack for a 1-0 lead. In the second half Nakusp dominated the play and pressured the ball into the offensive zone, but could not finish on any of their chances. At the whistle the sore remained at 1-0 and the game was lost. Nakusp earned a fourth place finish.
The senior girl squad had a hell of a weekend and proved the conviction of their moxie by playing through adversity and injury to produce an outstanding footy performance. The girl’s development as individuals and as a team continues to grow as experience and determination mold the Cougars into a cohesive unit. The girls will have a chance at redemption next week when they travel to Osoyoos for the last tournament before the Kootenay playoffs.