Columneetza Cougars player Sunney Engstrom (right) battles for possession with Duchess Park’s Claire Bruce May 12 during the North Central Zone Championships in Williams Lake.

Columneetza Cougars player Sunney Engstrom (right) battles for possession with Duchess Park’s Claire Bruce May 12 during the North Central Zone Championships in Williams Lake.

Cougars claw to silver medal at soccer zones

It was an emotional end to a short season as Columneetza secondary girls soccer players donned the Cougars jersey for the final time May 13.

It was an emotional end to a short season as Columneetza secondary girls soccer players donned the school’s Cougars jersey for the final time May 13 at the North Central Zone Soccer Championships in Williams Lake.

The Cougars, playing in front of their school after advancing to the tournament final, fell behind 2-1 to the Duchess Park Condors with just minutes remaining in the second half.

With time winding down Columneetza wasn’t able to add an equalizer before the final whistle blew.

Cougars coach Caitlin Sabatino said the final result was unfortunate, but added the match was well played by both teams.

“It was a close game,” she said. “When it’s so close you wish there was something you could have done differently but the girls left it all out on the field and I’m proud of how they played.”

The Condors struck first in the first half on a tight-angled shot setup by a corner kick.

“It was a really nice corner kick that got fed into a girl and then fed back out for a great shot,” Sabatino said. “It was a really tough angle and probably had a 50/50 change of going in or completely missing the net, but it hooked in and was a good goal on their part.”

In the second half Columneetza Grade 10 player Natasha Lewis found the twine, knotting the contest up at one a piece.

But with minutes remaining the Condors capitalized on a free kick, after an intentional pass back to their goalkeeper by the Cougars, to put the game on ice.

“The girls just wanted to play well, I think, and they did,” Sabatino said. “Especially because it was their home town and in front of their school. We were in tight both games with Duchess.”

The Cougars path to the final consisted of a 2-0 loss to the Condors Sunday morning, followed by 4-0 and 3-1 wins over the Nechako Valley Viqueens.

Neither the Cougars or the Condors are able to attend the upcoming provincial championships in Courtenay, however, so a vacant berth from the zone is up for grabs.

Sabatino added the future is bright for high school soccer in Williams Lake.

“On this year’s team we had about a half dozen grade 10s on the senior team, which is really encouraging,” she said. “There’s a really good core group of committed Grade 11s and a really good committed core group of grade 10s so when the two schools join next year they should be really competitive.

“These girls were a great group to work with and with the juniors coming up next year we should be really strong.”


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