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The BC Soccer Premier Cup means much more than shiny silverware to the Thompson Okanagan Football Club’s U16 girls.
“That the players took things in stride and were pretty much chilled out afterward was an indication that to them the two-year process of winning a provincial title was the most important part. And the Cup was but a just reward,” said their head coach Carli Tingstad after her team defeated the Fusion FC of Richmond/Vancouver 3-1 in the B.C. Soccer championship game on Sunday at Cloverdale Athletic Park.
“We all went through our ups and downs — it wasn’t always easy — but we were all committed to each other and believed and trusted in the changes we were making along the way.
“And these girls went about it with absolute class.”
Tingstad, in her second season with the core of the team and, is signed on to continue with the group next season, added that the positive comments of other coaches and players after the championship win at the highest level of youth league soccer in the province were the most gratifying part of the season finale.
“Of course the trophy is nice, but when the girls are praised for not only their superb play on the pitch but also for the exceptional way in which they represent themselves, the club, and the Okanagan, that’s what is worth savoring more than anything.”
Still, finishing in first place in the ultra-competitive eight-team B.C. Premier Soccer League with a 10-3-1 record; winning quarter-final and semifinal playoff matches; and capping the season with a dominating victory on Sunday is nothing to make light of for the top 15 players in their age group in the Thompson Okanagan region, including nine from the Kelowna area.
“The girls executed the game plan to perfection,” said Tingstad of the TOFC’s win on Sunday. “They did the hard work in the first half and were rewarded with a 2-0 lead. That put them in a comfortable position and they basically just managed the game from there.”
West Kelowna’s Abigail Taneda opened the scoring in the 14th minute by forcing the Fusion into a backfield miscue and finding the net with a low shot to the far side.
Another goal off the press — by Kate Cartier of Kelowna off a pass from Jordan King — put the TOFC into the two-goal lead before the break.
While the Fusion cut the Thompson Okanagan’s lead in half on a goal off a direct kick just six minutes into the second half, TOFC absorbed some short-lived pressure to regain the momentum.
Cartier’s second goal of the game — a long shot off and over the outstretched arms of the Fusion goalkeeper — all but sealed the team’s second provincial championship in four years.
That all of the players on the roster played in the final — in front of a large and boisterous contingent of parents and fans from the Thompson Okanagan — was fitting said Tingstad.
“Every single player contributed massively over the course of the season to get us to the championship game. While some of them would have liked more playing time during the season and in the final, it was important they all got to be a part of it.”
While the U16s were the only TOFC team in 12 BCPSL divisions to reach the finals — the U17 and U18 boys got to the semis — Tingstad says the future looks bright for the Thompson Okanagan club that brings together the top players from throughout the Valley.
“Hopefully this a spark to push more teams to a higher level and the start of a string of championship contenders,” she said.
“And we couldn’t ask for a better group to look up to.”
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