Team BC wins gold at Canada Games
Team BC captured gold in the final of the women's soccer competition at the 2009 Canada Games after defeating Quebec 1-0 in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, on Saturday afternoon.
Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Women's team striker Jenna Richardson scored the only goal of the match in the first half. Richardson was later voted the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
With strong winds blowing diagonally across the field, the conditions were a definite factor in the game, and an early indicator of the approach of Hurricane Bill. British Columbia won the coin toss and opted to play into the wind in the opening half.
Despite the adverse conditions, Jesse Symons' team enjoyed a fair share of play in the first half and opened the scoring. Jenna Di Nunzio got behind the Quebec defence at the right edge of the box, and played it across for Richardson to slot home at the back post. It was Richardson's team-leading sixth goal of the competition, as she finished runner-up for top goalscorer in the compeitition.
With the wind at their back in the second half, Team BC took the play to Quebec, using their possession game and high pressure tactics to great advantage. The side from 'la belle province', who came into the match having outscored their opponents 14-1, were never able to settle, and did not seriously threaten the Team BC goal.
"We've allowed very few chances all week because of our defensive pressure," said Symons, "while our back four have been unbelievable."
This is Team BC's second-straight Canada Games title, having won gold back in 2005. It is also the province's fourth title in five competitions since women's soccer made its Canada Games debut back in 1993.
"Winning gold at the Canada Games is a great achievement for all the players and staff of Team BC," said Whitecaps FC director of youth Dan Lenarduzzi. "The opportunity to work with this group as Whitecaps full-time players through the year, and in partnership with BC Soccer, is definitely paying dividends. We look forward to more in the future."
Lenarduzzi's sentiments were echoed by BC Soccer executive director Bjorn Osieck. "We congratulate Team BC head coach Jesse Symons and all the players and staff of Team BC," said Osieck. "This has been a great example of our working partnership with Whitecaps FC and we look forward to more great things, as we formalize our full partnership over the next year."
Remarkably, while Richardson was voted tournament MVP, second place in the voting went to Team BC midfielder Natalie Boyd, while teammate Nicole Setterlund finished third!
It was very much a team performance though, especially as Team BC played five matches in just six days. "We used our bench, and all of them played a lot throughout the first few games," said Symons. "We also showed with our fitness level and work rate that we were the fittest team at the event."
Claiming Canada Games gold caps a triumphant season for the squad. Playing as the Whitecaps Prospects Women, they finished runners-up in the Pacific Coast Soccer League Premier Division regular season before winning the PCSL's Dave Fryatt Challenge Cup in the playoffs. They then finished second at the prestigious Surf Cup youth tournament in San Diego, California.