Sports

B.C. berth for ‘Cats

Jenna Bissoondatt of the Tamanawis Wildcats (right) chases Anca Duncan of the Semiahmoo Totems during a Fraser Valley high school playoff game Wednesday afternoon. Tamanawis won 2-1.  - COLLEEN FLANAGAN / BLACK PRESS
Jenna Bissoondatt of the Tamanawis Wildcats (right) chases Anca Duncan of the Semiahmoo Totems during a Fraser Valley high school playoff game Wednesday afternoon. Tamanawis won 2-1.
— image credit: COLLEEN FLANAGAN / BLACK PRESS

On paper, it didn’t look good early in the Fraser Valley Championship tournament.

The Tamanawis Wildcats posted a sub-.500 regular season, were tabbed as the 15th seed in the Fraser Valley championships, and were drubbed 5-1 by the Centennial Centaurs in the first game of the 16-team competition.

But three consecutive victories later – two over top five seeds – the senior girls high school soccer team had clinched a berth at the provincial championship tournament later this month in Burnaby.

The top six teams from the Fraser Valley tournament qualify for the provincial championship playoff, and Wildcats head coach George Paille was confident his team could challenge for one of those half dozen berths.

“We were better than a 15th-seed, in my opinion,” said Paille. “With six teams going through, I thought we’d have a chance. The top four positions were pretty much a lock, but if the girls played well as a team, I thought we had a chance.”

After that first round loss to the second-seed Centennial Centaurs, the Wildcats needed three consecutive wins to extend their season beyond this week.

After blanking the Terry Fox Ravens 2-0, then staying alive with a 3-1 victory over the fifth-seed Charles Best Blue Devils, the Wildcats clinched a berth at the B.C.’s by upending the third-seed Chilliwack Storm 2-1 on Monday afternoon in Chilliwack.

“We only played our best soccer in the last half of the season,” said Paille, who is assisted by co-coach Doug Elton on the sidelines.

“The key was staying healthy and playing as a team. We hadn’t played together before, it took a while.”

Tamanawis has only five Grade 12s on the roster – striker Katie Wigston, sweeper Alex Brignal, and goaltender Marki Walters are the three starters – while Brittany Williams and Binny Bopari come off the bench when more experience is needed on the field.

Led by striker Taylor Sarchet, centre midfielder Harneel Hundal, and defender Kayse Flostrand, the deep group of Grade 11s have contributed to turning the season around.

The Wildcats were 3-1-4 (won-tied-lost) in league play before going into the Fraser Valley tournament and falling to the Centaurs. Since then, Tamanawis is over the .500 mark overall, and on their way to the provincial championships.

The Wildcats edged the Semiahmoo Totems 2-1 Wednesday night, and played the Fleetwood Park Dragons for fourth place yesterday (Thursday). Wigston and Sarchet netted the goals, with Walters playing a standout game in goal.

- Fleetwood Park and the Seaquam Seahawks have also advanced to the provincials.

Fleetwood Park was expected to advance, after earning the fourth seed for the Fraser Valley tournament. The Dragons were upset 3-0 by the 13th-seed Seahawks in the opening round, then earned their place in Burnaby by topping the Abbotsford Panthers 3-1, the Sardis Falcons 2-1 and the Maple Ridge Ramblers 3-2. Fleetwood then gained some revenge for the first round loss, topping Seaquam 2-1 in a shootout Wednesday to determine which team played Tamanawis for fourth yesterday.

After their win over the Dragons, Seaquam stopped Charles Best to reach the tournament semifinals and clinch a berth to the B.C.’s. They then lost 2-0 to the South Delta Sun Devils before falling to Fleetwood Wednesday to place sixth in the tournament.

sports@surreyleader.com

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