Double gold for WolfPack soccer at Pacific Western Athletic Association provincials
Adam Williams, Sports Editor Ω
Each was decided by a single goal, but both had the same outcome.
The WolfPack men’s and women’s soccer programs both brought home gold from Pacific Western Athletic Association’s provincial play in Nanaimo on the weekend, with the women defeating the Quest Kermodes 1-0 in the championship final and the men topping the Douglas Royals 4-3 in penalty kicks.
The WolfPack teams will now head to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national championship.
“Both teams are going to nationals, so it was a little relaxed,” co-head coach Sean Wallace said from the ferry following the match. The Royals are also going to be heading to nationals as B.C.’s wildcard team.
“It was just sort of seesaw back and forth. The boys show a lot of resilience, digging their heels in and withstanding the pressure they gave us with the one man advantage.”
TRU played most of the second half down a man after Brandon Mendez was shown a red card and ejected from the game. The team was already missing its leading scorer and the Pacific Western conference’s player of the year Justin Wallace, who had been injured in the semifinal and underwent a procedure on his spleen in a Victoria hospital. They were also missing Corey Wallis, who was also out with a groin injury. The team looked to its depth to come through.
And come through it did.
Ashley Raynes scored in the second half to give TRU a 1-0 lead, which held for nearly 20 minutes. The Royals tied the game off a corner kick in the 65th minute and the teams remained deadlocked for the remainder of regulation and two overtime periods. The game would be decided by penalty kicks.
After Kyle Logan, Joseph Rose and Oriol Torres scored on their attempts, while Dion Gouldsborough was stopped, the teams were tied at three penalties apiece. Keeper Travis Froehlich made his second stop on the Royals’ fifth shooter and set the stage for Raynes to play hero again.
Raynes put the ball past the keeper into the lower left hand side of the net to win the match and the provincial championship.
“We don’t quit,” Wallace said. “We have talked to the guys all season that we need to put in a full 90, or in this case a full 120, and they did that. They battled for each other, they battled for a couple injured players … it was completely impressive, I’m very proud of everyone who was on the field.”
It’s the team’s second provincial gold medal in the last six years, the first coming in 2007. Sebastian Gardner, the WolfPack’s only fifth year player, is the only holdover from that team and now has a gold medal in his rookie and final seasons.
The men’s team’s focus will now turn to the national championship, which will take place in Saint John, N.B. Nov. 6 to 9. They will be forced to play without Justin Wallace, whose injury will sideline him for the remainder of the season.
The WolfPack women are also shifting their focus to nationals, but at this point that’s old hat for them. The women captured their third-consecutive provincial title on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over the Quest Kermodes. They will head to the CCAA championship in Surrey Nov. 6 to 9 and hope to improve on a pair of fourth place finishes at their last two national championships.
“That was one of our goals right at the start of the season and it’s so good to accomplish it,” head coach Tom McManus said Sunday. “Now we just have to get to nationals.”
TRU’s game against Quest was the polar opposite of its semifinal match against the Langara Falcons, which ended 5-1. The WolfPack got goals from Katie Sparrow and Jayden Radu, and a hat trick from Alanna Bekkering to propel them into the championship game.
Sparrow, a third-year forward, also scored the only goal in Sunday’s match.
“It was just one heck of a great team effort,” McManus said.
He added that it’s a great way for the soccer teams to end of their season and their time in the Pacific Western conference; both teams will depart the league as the reigning provincial champions.
“I think it’s phenomenal for the athletics department, I think it’s phenomenal for Kamloops itself, actually,” McManus said. He added that to the best of his memory “it’s the first time both teams have both ended up in first place and it’s the first time that we’re getting into the nationals together, so it’s going to be great.”