With no time to get used to the “scorching heat” at the U15 girls provincial soccer championships in Kamloops last month, the Cowichan Crushers faced the host team, which had already adapted to the temperatures, in their first game.
“We were just not accustomed to that,” Cowichan coach Brian Johnston said. “That being said, they were a good, good team.”
The Crushers also lost offensive star Aisha Werner to a minor injury in their opener, which forced them to rethink their game plan, as they lost 3-1. Kamloops was up 1-0 after the first half, and the second half was delayed by thunder and lightning. Taylor Johnston managed to tie the score on a corner kick, but Kamloops popped in two more to put the game away.
In their second game, the Crushers faced Vancouver United, who knocked them out of the Coastal Cup tournament in the spring. That match also ended in a 3-1 loss.
“They’re a good team,” Johnston said. “I knew they’d be our toughest one.”
Werner scored Cowichan’s lone goal, and the first half ended with the teams knotted at 1-1, but Vancouver’s best player took over in the second half. Still, Johnston was pleased with his team’s play.
“Our performance was much better compared to when we played them in the Coastal Cup,” he said.
Next up for Cowichan was another Vancouver team, the Blaze, who doubled up on the Crushers 2-1.
“We were a bit disappointed in the result,” Johnston said. “That was probably our best game of the tournament. I thought we did deserve the win in that game.”
Werner scored in the first half and generated some more chances, as did Anna Beauchamp, but the Vancouver team came back and scored two in the second half.
That sent Cowichan into the seventh-place game against the Prince George Timberwolves. Taylor Johnston opened the scoring with an individual effort, stripping the last P.G. defender, then beating the keeper when she came out to challenge, and it was 1-1 at halftime. Werner scored the go-ahead goal a breakaway off a through-ball by Shayla Wilson, and the Crushers finished the tournament on a winning note.
Cowichan was also given the Fair Play Award by tournament organizers.
Johnston lauded the play of Macy Wiebe, Denene Wallace, Molly Corbett and goalkeeper Chloe Bruce.
“Everybody played well through the tournament,” he said. “But those girls played really well.”
The Crushers will be a U16 team when the next season gets underway in September, although they’ve opted to play in the U17/18 Gold league after winning the U15/16 league last year as U15 team.
“It will be a good challenge for us, for sure,” Johnston said.