Despite being a little unprepared for the level of play at the provincial championships in Kamloops last month, the U14 girls Gold Cowichan Crushers played well enough to finish fourth at the soccer tournament, narrowly missing out on the medals, and having what head coach Neall Rowlings called “the experience of a lifetime.”
“After an odd year of playing down a year as our competition, we weren’t quite prepared for how far girls at our level could kick a ball off the corner,” Rowlings said. “We made some changes and tried to adapt as quickly as we could. We definitely had the team to win it all this year. Regardless we had a great adventure and we were impressed with how well Kamloops hosted the event.
The Crushers felt the impact of the heat immediately in their first game, but managed to earn a 1-1 tie against the Vancouver Venom, who beat Cowichan 2-0 in the semifinals of the Coastal Cup in the spring. Taya Brubacher scored Cowichan’s goal.
Brubacher struck again in Cowichan’s second game, again equalizing the match with Kelowna — the eventual provincial champs — at a goal apiece. Unfortunately for the Crushers, Kelowna scored another off a corner-kick scramble, then held on to beat Cowichan 2-1.
Cowichan won their third match of the group stage, beating Williams Lake 2-0 on a pair of goals by Georgia McLean, finishing second in the group and earning a chance to play host Kamloops for bronze. With just nine healthy players on the pitch, the Crushers laboured to a 3-1 loss, finishing fourth in the province. Jessica Butler accounted for Cowichan’s lone goal.
“We had probably seven other breakaways, just no gas left,” Rowlings said. “All three goals against came from corner kicks.”
Margo Blumel was named Cowichan’s MVP at provincials after pairing with Mona Johnstone to allow only two goals directly down the field of play.