On March 15 and 16, the Ponoka U14 girls represented Central Alberta Soccer Association in Edmonton at the provincial indoor soccer championship. Their first game was a 10-2 loss vs Sherwood Park (Edgar). Tatianna Landsman surrendered 5 goals before Leah Jensen scored in the first half, tapping in a pass from Saffron Lewis. Emma Bendera scored in the second half assisted by Savanah Wirchenko. Game 2 on the first day was against Calgary SWU Saints, the eventual bronze medalist. Calgary had a meager 2-0 lead at half time after spectacular goalkeeping by Emma Bendera. Floor Oosterink started in goal in the second half. Emma Bendera scored Ponoka’s lone goal on an amazing individual effort. The final score was 6-1.
On the second day, Ponoka played Calgary CWSC Thunder, the first place club from Calgary’s Tier 4 division. Ariana Ahtila received a yellow card midway through the first half resulting in a 4 minute shorthanded situation. A strong defensive effort by Billie Menssa, Melanie Kebel, Jaynie Williamson and Tatianna Landsman along with strong goaltending by Bendera killed off the penalty. Calgary eventually scored late in the first half, resulting in a 1-0 half-time lead. Calgary scored two more by the midway point in the second half and Floor Oosterink relieved Emma in goal. Floor put in an amazing goalkeeping effort, allowing only one goal on a shot just inside the right post. Forwards Zoe Pitre and Haylee Wiebe had their best efforts of the season but couldn’t quite score. The final was 4-0.
The Storm’s amazing result cannot be overstated. This club is comprised of five 11 year old players, six under 14-aged players from Ponoka, Zhanna Williams from Lacombe and Jaynie Williamson from Rimbey. Their three opponents all entered the tournament with the advantage of regular league play, and constant use of a regulation size indoor soccer pitch. The Storm picked up a mere seven games, four in a November tournament in Spruce Grove, two friendly matches vs Leduc in January and one vs Ardrossan Tier 3 in February. The gym at Centennial Centre has been the practice location for the majority of Ponoka Storm’s indoor soccer program.