The McRoberts Strikers literally came out of nowhere to produce a top eight finish at the B.C. AA Girls Soccer Championships in Campbell River.
The Strikers’ bid to be part of the 16-team tournament looked to be over after finishing third in last month’s Richmond-Vancouver playoffs. They were trimmed 1-0 by Notre Dame in the semi-finals then watched the Jugglers fall to Crofton House in penalty kicks — resulting in both private schools securing the two available B.C. berths. A Notre Dame win would have at least forced a match-up with Crofton House for second place.
However, two days later it was determined the zone would be awarded an additional berth thanks to its overall strength after Northwest B.C. region decided not to attend. Suddenly, the Strikers were on their way to Vancouver Island.
They were seeded 16th then promptly showed they deserved to be there. McRoberts hung tough with eventual champion and top ranked St. Thomas More to open the tournament, dropping a 1-0 decision.
The Strikers were turned away on some quality chances and the Burnaby Catholic school broke the deadlock on a rebound after an incredible save by goalkeeper Tamryn Ward.
The girls re-grouped from the tough loss to defeat Ballenas (2-0) and LV Rogers (4-2) to finish second in their pool group.
“We definitely felt like the underdogs going in ranked as the last berth for the championship tournament. Our team rose to the occasion and played two of their best games of the season on that first day,” said Strikers coach Sarah Da Costa. “We are so incredibly proud of the team's performance. They truly proved that they are among the best in B.C.!”
The Strikers moved onto placement play where their short bench caught up with them. Already missing three players to injuries, two more starters were on the limp. They still hung tough with Crofton House — having a controversial goal called back then surrendering the go-ahead tally late in the second half in a 2-0 loss.
McRoberts then closed out the tournament with a 3-1 loss to Brooks (Powell River) to wind up eighth.
"It's been over 10 years since we've made it out of the (private school dominated) zone playoffs, so to finish within the top 10 in our province was thrilling,” continued Da Costa. “We are so impressed by the progress and the talent on this young team.
“It was a great way to end the high school careers of our grade 12 players, Sunanah Gill, Ashlyn Kumar, Megan Macfarlane , Sarah Mori, and our captain, Jacqueline Tyrer. They have all been such an integral part of this team for so many years.”