The Mt. Boucherie Bears avenged a pair of regular-season losses to the Kelowna Owls with a 1-0 championship win on Wednesday in Okanagan Valley senior AAA girls soccer play.
Kyleigh Oloriz scored 24 minutes into the game for the lone goal in the evenly-matched final encounter at Kelowna Secondary School. The victory over the first-place and previously unbeaten (8-0) Owls earned the Bears a berth in the B.C. School Sports provincial championship tournament in Vancouver May 30-June 1.
The winning goal came off a free kick by Jessica Skerlec from just beyond centre pitch. The ball was challenged by Boucherie’s Morgan Hodge and a KSS defender and landed at the foot of Oloriz.
The Bears, second-place finishers in the Valley’s regular season with a 6-2 record, went into the final having lost 1-0 to the Owls in West Kelowna and they came out on the short end of a 3-1 decision in their final pre-playoff encounter.
Boucherie coach, Jessica Briker, said her players didn’t consider themselves underdogs despite the two previous losses.
“We thought we outplayed KSS in our first game but gave up the winning goal with five minutes left,” she recalled. “While we didn’t deserve to win the second game, the girls still believed they could beat the Owls . . . and the extra motivation to represent the Valley at provincials was a key factor in the turnaround.”
And she added:
“Every year playing KSS is the most anticipated and exciting game of the season for the players, parents and coach staff. It can go either way on any given day. Both teams always come to play hard . . . it’s just a matter of who can put the ball in the back of the net.”
Briker cited the play of Grade 10 goalkeeper Tayshja Clark, who buoyed her team by stopping several KSS scoring opportunities early in the game, as a huge part of the win. She also lauded the performance of the team’s younger defenders, especially Skerlec (centreback), Bianca Panagos (fullback) and Selena Armina (fullback).
“But it was truly a team effort,” she said. “The girls have been so supportive of one another all season, and the result truly showed their determination, teamwork and communication.”
The Bears earned a berth in the final by defeating the third-place Rutland Voodoos 4-1 in semifinal play on Monday. While RSS opened the scoring (Josie Stutters) just six minutes into the game, the Bears came back with four unanswered markers, two by Oloriz and one each from Aimee Konstantopoulos and Skerlec. Lexington Kinnear assisted on two of the goals and Taylor Sewell helped set up another.
The Owls, last year’s Okanagan AAA champions, reached Wednesday’s final with a 4-0 semifinal victory over the fourth-place Salmon Arm Jewels.