Youth and determination is driving the U14/15 Shuswap FC Girls team to victory.
Although they compete in the U15 division, the majority of the team is only 14-years-old. But this has not held them back as they are moving on to provincials.
“I think we’ve had an exceptional team for a few years, last year we almost made it. It was a close game, a 2-1 loss. It’s quite a feat for these girls this year, they’ve been working together for a couple years now,” said the team’s coach Tracey Johnson.
After concluding their regular season ranked fourth in their league, the Shuswap FC girls had to face the fifth-ranked team, from Kelowna for a spot in the playdowns.
After winning against Kelowna, the girls lost their first playdown game to first-ranked Kamloops.
Johnson said it was an awesome game despite the loss.
The loss to Kamloops left the Shuswap FC team up against Penticton for the third and final provincials berth.
“The girls definitely came out to win, Penticton has always been a bit of a battle for us,” Johnson said.
Although Johnson said her team entered the game with confidence because they had beat Penticton a few weeks ago, she added the entire league had been very competitive this season, with no blowouts and no opponents that could be taken lightly.
Johnson said Shsuwap FC beat Penticton based on strong offence from midfielders Phoebe Barnes and Jessica Roodzant as well as an excellent performance by Julia Hart in net.
“They really used everything we’ve been learning in practice and threw it into that game,” she said.
Johnson said the provincials berth is especially impressive because the team is composed of 10 14-year-olds and seven 15-year-olds. The U14 girls on the team have never got to play in their own division and Johnson called their playoff berth a major feat.
“If we can ever get into our own division we should dominate quite nicely,” she said.
The Shuswap FC team begin their provincial tournament against a familiar opponent, Kamloops.
“We play Kamloops first and we have come very close to beating them, so we’re quite excited about that actually,” Johnson said.
After facing Kamloops, the Shuswap team will play against two teams from the Lower Mainland before moving on to a final game against a team from the other four-team pool.
The provincials are held in Surrey from July 6 to 9 and the team also plans to attend a Vancouver Whitecaps game before the tournament begins.