The North Peace Secondary School Boys Soccer team is full of confidence heading into their zone qualifiers this weekend.
Rightfully so, the Oscars were just one win away from qualifying for provincials last year in Williams Lake, but a 7-1 loss against the host prevented the final step.
“It would mean a lot to them,” coach Ryan Sinclair said about the importance of a zone win.
“Some of these guys have been playing with me since Grade 10, so for three years they’ve been trying do it. They know what it means, they know it’s not an easy tournament to win. So I think that makes it special. Last year we came close, we lost in the final. I think they are hungry. They want to get over the hump.”
This year, Friday marks the start of the redemption song for the more experienced squad, one that is fresh off a tournament win in Prince George, another reason for the poised group.
“We played really well, we were strong, especially in the midfield. We had very skillful players that were very confident on the ball. Those other teams didn’t have strong midfield, they had strong defense,” Grade 12 Mitch Linley said about the tournament win.
“When it came to Duchess Park in the final, they were really good everywhere. I think we beat them because they weren’t really a team, they did their own skills and get through everyone and score. Our defense line was good. We got a 2-0 lead and they scored once and we held the lead.”
Sinclair added he has noticed an increased commitment from the squad this year, and a better team concept has helped them grow as a group.
“They like playing for each other, they like having fun,” he said. “Winning is important, but they also want to have a good time. I think that’s why they show up.”
Linley also said an influx of talent has helped the team be stronger as a unit compared to last year.
“We’re definitely stronger than last year, we have a good chance at going to provincials,” he said. “We have more rookies than second or third years so we have a big bench. The Nigerians that came this year, they are really dedicated to soccer… they are like the backbone and we actually have a goalie this year… Gage (Adkins) is making saves left right and centre.”
Sinclair also said even with a snow practice on the weekend, he had a bigger squad than he expected. That experience will likely be necessary in Dawson Creek on the weekend at zones.
“We just have to be a lot more careful with the ball. If it is in a danger area, we just clear it out. We wouldn’t mess around with it,” Sinclair said.
“Hopefully the snow won’t be a factor.”
The zone tournament begins Friday, Oct. 22 at DCSS.