The queens of penalty kicks have done it again, this time capturing B.C. Soccer’s Coastal Cup on home turf.
The Richmond Strikers earned the U15A title on Sunday afternoon at the Minoru Oval with a 2-1 win over the Fraser Valley Selects. The result also sends the rep girls team to the Provincial “A” Cup Championships, set for early July at the South Surrey Athletic Park.
The Strikers and Selects were scoreless through 80 minutes of regulation time. Teagan Ng gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the opening overtime half and the Selects answered in the late going of the additional 10-minute frame. That sent the Strikers to their comfort zone — better known as penalty kicks.
The Selects’ first shot went over the crossbar while the Strikers calmly converted all four of their attempts on perfectly-placed shots. When the Selects’ fourth shot also sailed high, a 4-2 outcome clinched the cup.
Dating back to last year’s triumph at the U14 level, the Strikers have remarkably won five of their six Coastal Cup matches in PKs. The only regulation time result was a quarter-final win over Vancouver two weeks ago.
It’s got to the point where the girls are completely unfazed about what is typically a nerve-racking process — led by goalkeeper Makayla Kusch.
“When it comes to overtime and it comes to PKs it really is a situation where it’s ‘been there and done that.’ They are confident and know what to do. They have that experience,” said Strikers head coach Mandhir Punia.
“Everyone is confident in taking them. That is the key.”
It marked the second straight year Fraser Valley has come to Richmond and fallen in penalty kicks to its rival. A year ago it was in the semi-finals at Hugh Boyd.
“That’s a quality team over there. In this league, you get to this point and there is no weak team. It comes down to a game of mistakes. They made one and we made one and it was a tied game,” continued Punia.
“Our strength is we attack quickly and get teams under pressure. We coach a system that we aren’t worry about our opponent and, instead, let them strategize against us. It seems to work.”
The rest of the Strikers roster includes: Zoe Balback, Erica Forman, Kara Hikida, Kiayra Hohlweg, Natalia Lawson, Ashley Maedel, Saniya Mann, Anne-Marie Macken, Jaya Punia, Mahara Remtula, Lexy Shury, Christina Sofikitis, Janelle Tuazon-Cabido and Carina Wevers. Greg Ng is the assistant coach.
The team will take some time off before building momentum again towards provincials. The Strikers won bronze a year ago after they had locked up a tournament berth thanks to a first place finish in league play. This time they had to win the Coastal playdowns to advance.
“They will take a well-deserved rest and mentally re-set. Hopefully it will be a better result in July. We have gone the long way this time,” Punia added.