The Rossland Secondary School Royals came up short in its final bid for a provincial title

The Rossland Secondary School Royals came up short in its final bid for a provincial title

RSS Royals end a rich sporting legacy

The Rossland Secondary School Royals senior girls soccer team came up just short of a medal, settling for another fourth-place finish.

The Rossland Secondary School Royals senior girls soccer team came up just short of a medal, settling for another fourth-place finish after losing to Glenlyon Norfolk 5-3 Saturday at RSS in the B.C. Single-A  high school soccer championship.

The Royals battled back from a 2-1 deficit at the half to take a 3-2 lead on the strength of two goals from Kaela Zimmer. However, Glenlyon capitalized on some scattered defensive play, stealing the ball from the defender and chipping it over RSS goalie Soleil Patterson to tie it. The team from Victoria would then take the lead on a corner, before delivering the dagger with just over two minutes remaining in regulation.

RSS had ample opportunities to score, and dominated ball possession in the second half, but good goaltending and close misses were the undoing of the Royals eleven.

Rossland had rolled to a 3-0 record in the round robin on the strength of a 2-1 win over St. Ann’s, a 3-0 victory over Fraser Lake, and an exciting 4-3 shoot out victory over Pemberton. However, they lost to Southridge 5-3 in the semifinal sending them to the bronze-medal game against Glenlyon.

“I feel that Rossland girls had the potential to win the whole tournament,” said coach Rick McKinnon. “They fought hard in every game but came up short in the last two games. We outplayed Southridge in the second half and the same against Glenlyon.”

The Rossland team was the top public school in the province for the second year in a row, as eventual winner Immaculata from Kelowna, as well as Southridge and Glenlyon are all private schools.

The provincial tournament marks the final event for the high school, with Grades 10-12 students moving to J. L. Crowe next year.

For graduating students like team captain Jaala Derochie, the last game had even greater significance.

“It is pretty tough, especially because the school is closing which makes it a little more emotional for everybody. It was a little disappointing coming fourth again, but it was a good game.”

The closing of the secondary school ends a remarkable sporting legacy that boasts numerous national team members including Thea Culley a veteran player for Team Canada’s women’s field-hockey team.

“I’m really sad about the closing of RSS,” said Culley in an email. “I like the feeling of having roots in Rossland and obviously RSS is a large part of those feelings.”

The school has also won provincial and regional titles in downhill and cross-country skiing, basketball, golf, gymnastics, rugby, and field hockey.

“I think some of my fondest memories of RSS include my very first field hockey games against L.V. Rogers and Stanley Humphries, playing three games against high schools in California, and playing basketball in tournaments all around the Kootenays.

“The most memorable would be winning BCAA Field Hockey provincials in 2000. RSS had attended that tournament for 25 years and had medalled numerous times but the gold medal had evaded us. The team that year was definitely something special and was very close . . . It was my first year on the Senior team and it was the first step in my becoming an elite athlete.

“Overall, I’ve always felt extremely proud to come from a unique small town in the mountains and follow in the footsteps of other successful Rosslanders.”

As for McKinnon, who has coached over 70 teams at the school in almost 20 years,  seeing RSS close is difficult, but takes satisfaction in the success of the many school teams and athletes over the years, particularly this soccer team.

“It would have been deserving for them to medal in their last game as a senior team at Rossland Secondary School,” said McKinnon. “I am nothing but proud to have coached them all these years. Top public school is nothing to be ashamed of and they played with all they had the whole season.”

Immaculata defeated Southridge 2-1 in overtime in the final to win the provincial title.