Inspired by the play of World Cup footballers, Kootenay South Youth Soccer Association (KSYSA) teams kicked it up a notch in regional playoffs advancing four teams to the provincial championships.
The KSYSA Storm’s U13, U14, and U16 boys teams all won their qualifying matches against various Kootenay counterparts to punch their tickets to the Provincial B Cup Championship in Richmond July 3-6, while the Girls U18 advanced unopposed and will travel to Chilliwack the same weekend.
The U16 team rolled over Creston with a decisive 11-0 victory at Mazzochi Park in Fruitvale on Saturday. Backstopped by goalie Mike Isernia, striker Blake Sidoni netted a hat trick, while Eli Voykin, Mason Todevic, and Matt Liszt all scored a pair of goals to send the team to its second straight provincial tournament. The Storm, formerly known as the Bighorns, will look to improve on their top-three finish in last year’s championship.
“They worked hard all year for this,” said U16 coach Neil Moon after the victory. “We came third at the provincials last year so we really stepped it up this year.”
While a few tournaments the team had planned to attend were cancelled, Moon is happy with the team’s progress and confident that tournaments in Kalispell, Lethbridge, and Nelson have adequately prepared the U16s for the always tough Island and Lower Mainland competition.
“I think the experience we gained last year and the hunger we have this year, I think we’ll be competitive for the provincials again.”
The Storm/Bighorns beat Terrace in last year’s bronze-medal game after defeating Victoria and Quesnel and falling to eventual champion New Westminster by one goal in the round robin matches. Moon hopes for better this year.
“We’ll be happy with a good effort, but it would sure be nice for the Kootenays to win,” he added. “I don’t think the Kootenays has won one in any age division for about 20 years.”
The U13 boys meanwhile netted back-to-back shutouts with a 6-0 win over Cranbrook and a 5-0 victory versus Nelson to advance to the provincials. The U14 Storm advanced after defeating Nelson in a pair of 1-0 games in Nelson on the weekend.