There will be no soccer this weekend for the New Westminster Hyacks senior girls team.
That was the fate scripted after a spirited performance by a under-staffed team two weeks ago on the North Shore, where they were edged 2-0 by Handsworth in the zone’s final qualifier for the B.C. 3-A provincial tournament.
The tourney runs this week in Surrey.
Various injuries and conflicting commitments conspired to put New West’s season goal in peril, as the game was nearly forfeited due to a lack of starting players. Head coach Wayne McCarthy, a volunteer who skippers the team, credits NWSS athletic director Pete Battistin with helping cobble together a starting 11 for the game, which was played May 16.
"We were without our top offensive players. We had no subs. Players were in unfamiliar positions,” noted McCarthy. “We had juniors who've never played with us. All of that was against us but it was one of the best team efforts I've seen in a long time. I couldn't be more proud of the players. We came up a short of our target but that last game made me feel good about what we can do next year."
New West, which rolled undefeated through the Burnaby-New West league until a 4-3 overtime playoff loss to 2-A Alpha earlier in the month, was coming off a painful 7-1 setback to Argyle in the first provincial qualifying game.
Along with a different formation from the previous playoff game, the more youthful lineup faced a number of hurdles against a strong Handsworth crew. However, New West put forth an effective effort, but trailed 1-0 after a miscue in the 13th minute led to a goal.
“Up to that point, the girls were rock solid in their defensive structure. It was a bit of a scuffed pass and Handsworth beat us to it and just let it rip. It was a well-placed strike from about 25 yards out. (Netminder Lucy Fernandez) dove towards the ball but it was too well struck."
Unlike their game against Argyle, where the Hyacks lost confidence once behind, the players regained their focus and stuck to the team-first game plan.
“It could have gone downhill quickly after they scored,” McCarthy said. “Instead though, the girls rallied together and controlled play for much of the remainder of the half.”
Grade 9 midfielder Monika Arcadi had two impressive chances thrwarted by the North Van keeper, and Grade 9 call-up Kala Bruce came close to scoring the equalizer.
Fernandez, meanwhile, kept her team in the game with three big saves to start the second half. Buoyed by their goalkeeper’s heroics, the New West backline held its own and limited Handsworth to the outside. Turning in strong work defensively were fullbacks Madison Fowler and Sarah Gallant and centre backs Meagan Black and Emma Celle.
A penalty kick, due to a hand-ball call in the box midway through the second half, resulted in Handsworth’s second tally.
Despite the changes and host of young, unfamiliar faces in the lineup, the Hyacks exited the pitch with their heads’ high. Contributing to the spirited effort were midfielders Ava Lee, Sophie Crowther and Christine Singh and forward Ava Breiddal.