Maybe young soccer talent will help national team someday

This past season marked what apparently will be the final one for bantam girls’ soccer competition in Nanaimo elementary schools.

Soccer continues to be in the news these days, both internationally and locally.

The big news on the Canadian scene was the recent announcement of Spanish manager Benito Floro as new coach of the national men’s soccer team. The Canadian Soccer Association is hoping that the former Real Madrid manager can lead our country back to respectability.

Canada hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1986. The most recent embarrassment was our men’s team losing 1-0 this month to Martinique in Gold Cup competition. Obviously Floro will have his work cut out for him.

Locally, this past season marked what apparently will be the final one for bantam (born 1999-2000) girls’ soccer competition in Nanaimo elementary schools. A decision has been made that will see the sport replaced with another activity in coming years.

Annette Noble co-ordinated the league this year. In the large school division, the playoff final pitted McGirr against Rutherford and it was the McGirr squad that prevailed 3-1.

Players on the championship team were Jenelle Boutin, Taylor Matsuo, Katy McKillop, Kimberly Purdy, Hannah Rafuse, Sara Spencer, Haley Young, Sarah Zuccaro, Zoe Brown, Jessica Cyr, Maddy Kozubal, Alyx Largue, Melody Meadows, Emma Membry, Nayeon Hyun, Erica MacDonald, Sarah Powley, Christine Ren, Abby Meadows and Natalie Schofield. Coaches for the girls were Sue DeRosa, Christine Ciofi and Holly Knox.

Coached by Mr. Rolls and Ms. McConnie, the Rutherford side consisted of players Taylor Patenaude, Shayesteh Fouladgar, Niamh Murphy, Reeth Kahlon, Jessica Ory, Rebekah Holm, Robyn Van Zyl, Cara Dunlop, Jia Yin He, Nicole Andrews, Kianna McCreight and Taya Ironside.

Finishing in third place was the entry from Randerson Ridge. Dave McKinlay coached players Nicole Briggs, Annika Cook, Halle Williamson, Olivia Vallee, Sophie Scobie, Jessica Harry, Christina Harry, Shirin Anjarwalla, Shayla Frinton, Jordan Isnor, Aila Thompson and Madyson East.

It was an exciting final in the smaller schools’ division, as Pauline Haarer and Davis Road went scoreless through regulation and overtime. In a penalty shootout it was Pauline Haarer that came out on top, avenging a shootout loss in the final the previous season. Brian Kirkhope and Ian Johnson coached the winning team, with players being Hannah Crosby, Cassandra Hartwich, Jaimie Hartwich, Kendra Falkenberg, Jenna Falkenberg, Jessica Johnson, Sarah Kirkhope, Esme Laidlaw, O-Lin Metz, Erin O’Sullivan, Bella Rule, Madeleine Thorkelsson, Joscelin Martin, Tasia MacMillan, Maddy Jones and Samantha Hall.

Representing Davis Road were Olivia Mazurenko, Sarah Kedves, Marina Anderson, Jessica Stone, Leah Reinhart, Grace Mannix, Hailey Martens, McKenzie Purslow, Hannah Ronmark, Mary Nicholls, Ava Wilson, Sarah Gabrielson, Hera Bucatan, Shyanna Cavey and Ellen Couchman. Coach for the team was Sean Walsh.

Third place went to the Frank J. Ney squad coached by Mrs. Stewart. Girls on the team were Emily Till, Woojin Kim, Kimberly MacDonald, Charlotte Balderson, Pariya Sadeghi, Victoria Sunnar, Ayla Richmond, Tommylia Dunbar, Lauren Sanderson, Angela Webber, Nadia Pizzingrilli, Brianna Hoy, Erika McEachnie and Joanna Vallejo.

Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.

Ian Thorpe writes about sports Thursdays.