The Williams Lake Lightning won an unprecedented fifth consecutive title at the 22nd annual Big Bear Classic Soccer Tournament in Revelstoke on the weekend.
Not to be outdone, a Williams Lake ladies team, along with a few pickups from Kamloops — We Kam and We Will — captured its first ever championship at the tournament.
On the men’s side tournament organizers described this year’s 14-team field as the toughest and deepest they’d seen in the history of the event and the Lightning definitely had their work cut out for them.
“Every year the tournament gets tougher to win and everybody badly wants to be the team that ends our streak,” said Lightning forward Ryan Glanville. “All four of our games this year were close but we always seem to find that big goal when we need it and our team defense always comes up huge.”
The Lightning opened the tournament with a 2-2 draw against Vernon Saturday morning. After falling behind 1-0 Williams Lake answered back with two quick goals from Reimo Paivenen and Hee Young Chung to take a 2-1 lead at half time. Vernon would score late in the game to earn the 2-2 draw.
In game two Williams Lake defeated Cranbrook 1-0 with Dale Latin scoring the winning goal earning the Lightning a spot in Sunday’s semifinal.
In the semifinal Williams Lake defeated Courvas of Salmon Arm, 1-0. Latin again emerged the hero with a long blast from 25 yards out that went off the post and in. The victory set up a rematch with Vernon in the finals as they defeated the host, Revelstoke, in extra time in the other semi.
In the finals Ryan found some space and laced a shot into the bottom corner about 20 minutes into the contest to put Williams Lake ahead 1-0, which proved to be the final score.
The defensive line of Jason Burrows, Casey Cullen, Sean Glanville and Luke Mojer took care of the rest as they were at their stingy best recording their third consecutive clean sheet. Goalkeeper Mike Norris made a huge fingertip save early on in the final to help earn his third shutout in a row.
Other members of the winning Lighting squad including Geoff Buchanan, Owen Parrot, Jean-Marc Moncion and Craig Latin. The Big Bear tournament comes on the heels of another Lightning win in Penticton over the May long weekend.
On the ladies side We Kam and We Will defeated the Okanagan Wolfpack of Kelowna in a penalty shootout to win the championship.
We Kam and We Will opened its round robin against Vernon and cruised to an 8-0 win with goals from multiple players. Keepers Niki Siddall of Kelowna and Kamloops’ Alyse Fitzpatrick were awarded the shutout.
In game two the ladies fell 2-1 to the Okanagan Wolfpack after giving up two goals in the second half — the winner coming late on a penalty kick. Chelann Davis scored the lone goal for We Kam and We Will.
Next, after finishing second in its pool, the ladies faced off against Kamloops World Masters in the semifinal.
Williams Lake, on the strength of a solid midfield performance from Katie McMahen, Ashley Callander, Jamie Bourdon, Kelsey Callander, Lauren Pilszek and Kristin Tilbury, defeated Kamloops 4-0. Fiona Jamin of Nelson was also a force on the forward line.
In the final Williams Lake once again met the Okanagan Wolfpack — the only team to put a blemish on its record at the tournament.
“The game was one of few chances for either team and the majority of the play was in the midfield,” said We Kam and We Will defender Andrea Latin.
When the Wolfpack did generate chances Andrea, Leah Watt, Marina Campsall, Christy Dejmek and Sidall kept the door closed as time wound down in regulation.
The game went to a shootout with Williams Lake winning 5-4 on goals from Andrea, Ashley, Alyse, Christy and Haylie Shoults.
Top goal scorers of the tourney for the ladies were Davis and Shoults.