If you were a betting person you would lay money on the Rossland Secondary School Royals senior girls soccer team to win the B.C. Single A Soccer Provincials 2013 this weekend.
Ranked number three in the province heading into the 16-team tournament that begins today in Rossland, the Royals have several things on their side that should propel them to the podium.
As the host team, the Royals have home field advantage in the round robin format tournament, sport a solid 18-2 record this season with a good mix of veteran players and younger legs, but more importantly they have history and sentiment on their side.
If there ever was a movie script ready to be written with a perfect ending, it could be the Royals run this year. The provincial tournament marks the fifth year in a row the Royals have qualified, steadily climbing in their final placing to as high as fourth last year.
And as the last ever Royals senior girls team to wear the school’s colours—the school district is closing the high school program in June—history demands a Royals win.
Again, the Royals are the top ranked public school. Two weeks ago the club breezed through the rural schools championships, outscoring the opposition 31 to 3 and reeling off four straight wins.
With his team poised to win a provincial title, coach Rick McKinnon—who has coached soccer and basketball in the city for over 30 years—is now considering retirement as a coach.
Although he was eager to lose his charges on to the field in pursuit of a provincial championship, he could not contain his disappointment on seeing the successful program coming to an end.
“It’s a big disappointment considering it was all politics that was involved (in the decision),” he said. “I don’t know how many of these players will play next year (in Trail).”
There are four Grade 12s on the squad, with six players lost from last year’s club. There are four Grade 11s, four Grade 10s and “a lot of” Grade 8s.
The Royals honed their game in two tournaments—winning in Creston as well as the Osoyoos Desert Classic (public and private)—and are set to take on the tournament favourites from Kelowna in a grudge match.
Last year the club lost to Immaculata (Kelowna) in the bronze medal game to finish fourth, after heading into the tournament as the fifth ranked team.
Immaculata is the favourite to win the tournament, coming in ranked first. McKinnon said they were a young team last year when they finished third, and are now even stronger with a year of seasoning.
GlenLyon Norfolk (Vancouver) is ranked second, with Southridge (Surrey) coming in at fourth. The Royals beat Southridge 7-0 earlier in the season, but McKinnon wasn’t sure if that was the full strength of the Lower Mainland club.
McKinnon felt his side was ready for the task of going for gold.
“They should be good. They have had over one week of rest and they are healthy heading in,” he said. “It would be nice to add one more banner before they close the doors.”
The tournament opens with Rossland taking on St. Ann’s at 9 a.m. in Rossland on the pitch behind Rossland Secondary School (RSS).
After the opening ceremonies at RSS (12:30 p.m.) with all teams decked out in their game uniforms, the Royals engage with Fraser Lake at 2 p.m. in their second pool match. The game will also be in Rossland at RSS field.
The Royals finish the round robin with Pemberton at noon on Friday in Rossland at RSS field.
Later on Friday the teams square off according to how they finished in their pool, with the top teams vying in semi-final games, the winners moving on to the medal games and other consolation finals on Saturday morning.
The gold medal final game will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday at RSS field.
West Point Grey (Vancouver)
JV Humphries (Kalso)
GlenLyon Norfolk (Vancouver)
North Island (Port McNeill)
Bulkley Valley (Smithers)
St. Ann’s (Kamloops)