After heading down to the Provincial Soccer Championships in Chilliwack as underdogs at the beginning of July, Powell River Fury U18 girls’ soccer team returned as champions. Fury remained undefeated over four games and scored 13 goals while conceding only a stingy two in the process.
Fury grabbed the Vancouver Island berth at the provincials in May by becoming the Vancouver Island Champions when it convincingly beat the Lower Island winners, Prospect Lake, 3-0. Just making it to provincials was a dream come true for this dedicated group of soccer-loving players.
Fury has played together for six years and has become a very close group of athletes who are willing to fight for each other on and off the field. The players knew that this spirit would be needed to compete at the provincials as the U18 Cup had been claimed by Lower Mainland or Interior teams for the last 11 years.
The first game of the tournament was against last year’s runner-up, coastal cup champions and the favourites, Surrey United Elite. Surrey is a squad of fast, strong and physical players who have had success for several years.
A determined effort saw an even match become 1-0 for Powell River as Sophia Lazaroff converted a scramble in front of the net. Surrey equalized after a deflection before half time and the half ended 1-1.
Powell River Fury then stunned the champions with a full volley from eight yards by Justine Decock on a well delivered corner, but Surrey was able to equalize with a well worked play up the wing with about 20 minutes to go.
Playing into the evening, and after a very long day, Fury left the field exhausted but daring to dream after tying the surprised champions 2-2.
Day two’s game found Powell River up against the host Chilliwack at Exhibition Stadium. The home crowd and field size seemed to favour Chilliwack for the first half. Powell River’s goalie, Miranda Tuck, parried a hard shot over the crossbar from six yards and made two spectacular challenges outside the box to take away scoring opportunities and keep the game tied 0-0 going into the half.
The second half saw Powell River find its stride and, after Courtney Banks hit the crossbar, the team seemed to gain energy and the game changed. Brittany Harry buried the first goal after a fine individual effort to evade a player in the penalty box. And 10 minutes later, Dyan MacNeil jumped on an errant pass to give Powell River a 2-0 lead which it would protect with some of the best defensive soccer Fury has ever played.
Powell River went into the third game against Kootenay South Saints needing three goals to stay even in points and goals with Surrey. Powell River stayed disciplined during an aggressive game and goals scored by Brittany Harry and Mary Maguire in the first half and Lynne McDonald’s two late tallies in the second half gave Powell River the 4-0 lead it needed. Fury now had the opportunity to play a strong Burnaby team in game four needing only a tie to claim top spot.
Powell River had played Burnaby’s Cliff Avenue in May and lost 1-0 in a hotly contested match. Fury wanted a second chance.
The teams started evenly but Powell River slowly carried the play. A direct free kick outside the box found the bottom corner off Brittany Harry’s foot and gave Powell River a lead that would grow to 5-0. The game saw an overly aggressive Burnaby Squad concede three penalties, have its goalie earn a red card and lose composure under Powell River’s relentless attack.
The delight on the faces of the players, coaches and strong travelling contingent after the game was clearly evident as they realized their accomplishment. The spirit with which the team did it was also recognized later by BC Soccer by giving Fury the “fair play award,” an award for “showing respect toward the opposition and referees, playing fairly, and being gracious in both victory and defeat.”
Ultimately, fair play and having a strong team off the field have been Fury’s goals for many years. These things are hopefully what the players will be left with in the future. Now, Fury also has memories of a weekend where the team succeeded on the field while playing its best soccer ever, and capturing the province’s top prize.
Courtney Banks, Alexis Beauregard, Taylor Cooke, Justine Decock, Sheann Gaudet and Sophia Lazaroff provided defence. Midfielders were Kate Barnes, Sydni Long, Dyan MacNeil, Rebecca Muskee and Kaylee Reedel. Forwards were Brittany Harry, Lynne McDonald and Mary Maguire. Goalie was Miranda Tuck. Missing from the championship was teammate Robin Thomas. Coaches Barrie McDonald and Brendan Maguire travelled with the team.