There may be snow on the ground, but that hasn’t stopped Ponoka’s soccer squads from earning more hardware.
The Ponoka Storm U13 girls picked up silver and the U13 boys got bronze at the Early Bird Indoor Soccer Tournament, Nov. 19 in Spruce Grove at the TransAlta Tri Leisure Centre.
U13 girls silver lining
Entering the first indoor tournament of the season, the U13 girls have moved up a tier to Tier 3 competition, following a Tier 4 provincial championship this past summer in outdoor soccer.
“This is a big step up,” said coach Lonny Behm. “The girl’s play over the weekend showed they belonged against some of the biggest soccer centres in Alberta.”
Drawing early day matchups in both Saturday and Sunday round robin contests, the girls were strong winning both games, 12-1 against Cold Lake and 3-0 against the host team Spruce Grove.
Coach Behm said the girls maintained focus and put in a very clinical performance which qualified them for a spot in the gold medal game.
Ponoka opened the scoring in the first half against the Edmonton-based Terwillegar squad. Terwillegar was able to battle back, but the score remained close.
In a game that could have gone either way, Terwillegar won 3-2 securing gold, and Ponoka took home the silver medal.
“The girls went into their final game with heart and determination against an undefeated Edmonton team,” said Behm. “Our girls continue to amaze, step up and showcase their skill and passion every game they play, and we couldn’t be happier with the end result.”
Boys bring back bronze
The U13 Ponoka boys squad entered the tournament undefeated and continued in that manner with a 12-0 rout of Whitecourt in the opening match, earning goals from eight different scorers.
The second game was close, but Spruce Grove handed the boys their first loss of the season and the tournament with a 5-3 win.
“We were up 2-0 on quick goals by centre mid and cruising forward until a handball penalty kick got Spruce Grove back in the game,” said coach Rob McArthur, adding the team suffered injuries to the starting centre mid and starting striker, making it hard to make up the eventual goal difference.
The final game on Sunday for the boys ended in a 2-2 tie with the only unbeaten team at the tournament.
Coach Behm, who subbed in for Coach McArthur, said Ponoka was definitely the better team but the Ponoka boys couldn’t beat the other squad’s keeper who made several exceptional saves.
A penalty kick in the final 10 seconds that could have won the game for Ponoka was shot over the goal giving the boys the bronze medal.
“The goal of this tournament was to give the boys a feel for tournament soccer. This tournament was actually a first for most of our players. As discussed with the boys, our goal was to win a medal, which we did,” said McArthur. “Between winning a medal and gaining some valuable experience, especially with regard to facing adversity, this tournament was a success for us.”
– Submitted by Melissa Burke, Ponoka Storm U13 girls team manager