Williams Lake has a history of producing quality soccer teams, and the rep Girls U17 Storm are no exception.
The team, consisting of players who grew up playing soccer together, are showing true successes associated with a strong committed team, said head coach Brian Hansen.
After a spring of developing and refreshing their tactics and strategies the season began in May and continued into October. The Storm participated in five tournaments around the province with only four losses in 19 tournament games.
“It was an outstanding year,” Hansen said.
The team’s season opener was during the May long weekend tournament in Kamloops, which generated two ties, a loss and one win.
“As the season progressed, the Williams Lake girls gathered strength and continued to produce solid results,” he said. “Solid performance at both ends of the field allowed the team to adapt to their competitors’ tactics.”
In July, the Storm competed at the provincial championships in Penticton.
“The provincial tournament is always a difficult one for small-town teams as they must compete against larger centres of the Lower Mainland,” Hansen said. “But with grit and determination, typical of Williams Lake teams, the girls produced outstanding results losing only one game to Surrey, who went on to win the Provincial Championships.”
The Williams Lake girls finished fourth, Hansen said, which was especially impressive considering many members of the team are playing one to two years up in age division.
On Aug. 27-28, the Storm were in Chilliwack for a tournament, which ended in a nail biting loss in a shoot-out with Port Moody. The Storm took wins over Abbotsford and Surrey, and finished with a 1-0 loss to Coquitlam, winning the silver medal.
“Tradition sent them back to Revelstoke in September [for a tournament],” Hansen said. “Undefeated for the gold medal, the girls proved their dominance over Canmore, Nelson and Kootenay south teams.”
The highlight of their season, he said, was the Thanksgiving tournament in North Vancouver.
“The girls resoundingly won their first two games against Coquitlam, 2-0, and Burnaby, 3-0,” he said.
The Storm’s third game resulted in a tie with a North Shore team.
“The final and gold medal game was an extremely hard battle,” he said. “Playing in less than desirable Vancouver weather the girls battled not only the other team but cold, rainy weather and slippery fields.
“Every single player proved they had come to play as they were all completely exhausted at the end of the game.”
The Storm’s claim to the gold medal came during the second-half, double overtime with 10 seconds left, lifting them to a 3-2 win over Whistler.
“It couldn’t have been a more exciting and well-deserved finish for the end of a great season,” he said. “It truly has been a great year for them. One of the keys has been consistent effort every tournament.
“The players hold themselves accountable to their teammates as everyone wants to do the best they can for the success of the team. We are fortunate to have such a great group of athletes and unending support from the parents.”
Just prior to the gold medal match, the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team was training on the same field.
“This gave the Williams Lake girls an opportunity to watch Canada’s best soccer players train, as well as get a few pictures and meet some of the players,” he said.
The team added it would like to thank sponsors Johnston Meier Insurance Agencies Ltd., Vanderburgh & Co., Cariboo Eye Care Clinic and the Williams Lake Ladies League, who set up many exhibitions games against the Storm throughout the season.