The Princess Margaret Mustangs girls soccer team is playing their best heading into provincials and their timing is perfect.
The Mustangs host the AA provincial championship at King’s Park beginning Thursday. Coach John Buckley said their play has resulted in a nine-game win streak, including defending their AA Okanagan Valley championship, without giving up a goal in those games.
Confidence is growing for the Mustangs as the players feel good against any opponent.
“It’s a good sign if they can live up to that potential for the provincials,” said Buckley. “I think they are in a healthy mind space right now.”
After losing just one player from last year’s team that finished 14th out of 16 teams in the 2013 provincial championship, Buckley knew he would have a confident group with strong leadership this year. With the strong finish to their season, the team has, “kind of lived up to their billing,” said Buckley.
What makes the Mustangs strong is their depth. When asked what they do better, score or defend, Buckley had to think about it.
“To pick one over the other I’m not really sure,”said Buckley. “We haven’t given up a lot of goals. They have also scored a lot. I like the balance we have.”
On offence, Nicole Mann and Jasper Pankratz have been strong. The Mustangs also give teams headaches on the outside with Danielle Ruocco, Kaycee McKinnon and Sydney McKinlay, who possess speed and skill. With those qualities, the Mustangs also pressure their opponents without the ball. Buckley said their goal is to pressure first, get ball possession, then build up and attack.
The Mustangs also haven’t needed to rely on one player to score and Buckley said that is important. Jesse Olfert, Taylor Corrie and Ardessa Alleyn bring a strong presence in the middle by winning tackles and possession. The only player Buckley has concerns about is Mann, who got hurt during warmups in their second game of the season and didn’t play in the Okanagan Valley championship.
“If she is on her game, I think that gives us a whole other dimension of goal scoring,” said Buckley.
While the Mustangs coach preferred to have Mann for the valley championship, it was a good test as it gave the players confidence that they can perform without her.
“She’s a natural goal scorer. Delivers a lot of our attack for sure,” said Buckley of Mann.
The Mustangs open Pool C play against the Smithers Secondary Gryphons at 11 a.m. Thursday, then face Nelson’s L.V. Rogers Bombers at 3 p.m. On Friday, the Mustangs play their final pool match at 9 a.m. when they face the Mark Isfeld Secondary Ice from Courtenay. Buckley said the Mustangs have tried to gather information on opposing teams to gain any advantage possible. Placing first in the pool puts teams into the top flight. It’s the Mustangs’ goal to win the championship and Buckley hopes they can achieve their potential, adding that “pressure is what you put on yourself.”
The Mustangs plan is to break down each game into 10-minute cycles then refocus.
“I find they play better that way,” said Buckley, who thanked sponsors, parents, staff, students and the community for its support for the provincial championship.
Pool A features Lambrick Park, Little Flower Academy, George Elliot and Surrey Christian. Pool B has St. Thomas More, Sands, Valleyview and Duchess Park and Pool D has Archbishop Carney, Windsor, North Delta Secondary School and Crofton House.
People can follow the provincials by checking http://aabcseniorgirlssoccerprovincials.weebly.com/
Player profiles for the Mustangs are below:
Sierra Voeller, Gr.9, FB First year defender, hard tackler, tireless worker
Lindsay Selles, Gr.9, FB Uses speed and tenacity to match compete levels
Madison Cooke, Gr.10, FB Speedy outside attacking midfielder, improved skillsets
Brooklyn Cooke, Gr.10, FB Improved defender but medically out for tourney
Jasper Pankratz, Gr.10, M/F Skilled attacker/outside mid who can create chances
Sydney McKinlay, Gr. 10, M/F Fast attacking mid who has good patience and skills
Lexi Grady, Gr.10, M Returning from injury, defending mid strong on ball
Alyshia Coleman, GR.11, FB Overlapping defender gaining confidence and skills
Danielle Ruocco, GR.11, M/F Outside dangerous attacking threat to score/set-up
Vanessa Harris, GR.11, FB/M Hard working mid, strong to tackle and win ball
Sinclaire Lovett, Gr.11, FB Outside defender who is quick to move ball
Gillian Kennedy, Gr.11, M/FB Top speed defender who can also press forward
Nicole Mann, GR.11, F/M Skilled threat to score and create on the ball
Taylor Corrie, Gr.11, M/ST Tough tackler and creative hard work midfielder
Shayla Hearne, Gr.12, M/F Skill and speed threat who can also defend
Kaycee McKinnon, Gr.12, F Skilled outside attacker can score from long range
Jordan Broe, Gr.12, FB Speed defender who puts quick pressure on ball
Rylee McKinlay, GR.12, ST Strong starting central defender and back-up keeper
Jessie Olfert, Gr.12, M Strong linking mid who controls games and creates
McKenzie Ricard, Gr.12, SW Speedy sweeper who can defend, create and score
Ardessa Alleyn, Gr.12, M Hard work mid who creates, tackles and scores
Caitlyn Spooner, Gr.12, GK Starting goalkeeper and shot stopper senior.