By Vince Burke
For the Ponoka Minor Soccer Associaton
Girls U13 soccer in Ponoka is of the provincial caliber.
The U13 Girls Ponoka Storm competed in In-Door Soccer Provincials March 11 to 13 in Edmonton, as one of the top eight squads in Tier 4 at that age in all Alberta. It is the youngest Ponoka squad to ever qualify.
The girls squad qualified for the in-door soccer provincials, following strong showings at six tournaments through the in-door soccer season. These qualifying tournaments included a silver medal win at a recent tournament in Red Deer against teams that are in a higher tier than the Ponoka Storm.
“At provincials in Edmonton, Ponoka was by far the smallest community represented. Most of the teams come from large centers that have hundreds of players to draw from when solidifying a roster,” said coach Lonny Behm. “This shows the commitment to development from our players on this Ponoka team. These girls are fierce competitors and don’t back down even when they are the underdog in games.”
The Ponoka Storm played three very close games, where a few bounces the other way could have meant very different outcomes, including against the eventual gold medal squad, Spruce Grove.
Ponoka won its final round robin game 2-1, for a seventh place finish in the provincial tournament.
“Of course going into provincials, you want to medal; that’s the goal. But our girls came away knowing they are strong competitors, that is seven out of all squads of their age and their tier in the entire province,” said Behm.
“This is a group of girls that many have been playing together since they were five or six years old and continue to punch above their weight class. We are extremely proud of them as athletes, proud of their commitment and thankful and grateful for the support and help from their parents and families.”
The same squad now switches gears and prepares for the outdoor soccer season, boosted by its in-door season and provincial experience.