by Emily Jaycox
for The Independent
The Stettler U18 co-ed indoor soccer team battled for the league bronze medal against the Red Deer Forest Green team Saturday, Feb. 9, winning a close 4-3 victory.
“It was a very fast-paced game,” said head coach Colby Miles.
“The kids had to stay on their feet and play their positions.”
The game was tied 2-2 at halftime.
Stettler quickly gained the lead in the second half, scoring twice, but Red Deer came back to score with five minutes left in the game, making the final score 4-3 for Stettler.
The victory was a team effort, with goals being scored by varied players.
The Green, who finished in third-place in league play, have fast forwards and always make Stettler work hard, says Krista Stewart, Stettler’s assistant coach.
All the teams in the league are very competitive and evenly matched, says Stewart.
“The kids have to work for every game.”
The league has a couple of other teams with one or two female players, but Stettler’s team is the only one in the league with about half male and half female players.
The team has been playing indoor soccer together for four years, making them a formidable opponent – a factor other teams sometimes don’t expect.
Stewart says their girls are “very, very strong players” and all-boy city teams “quite often underestimate them.”
The Stettler U18 team recently won the gold medal at the Red Deer Winter Games boarded soccer tournament Jan, 25 to 27, beating Ponoka 3-0 in the final.
Their season record ends with 20 wins, seven losses and two ties.
The U18 football club (FC) finished in the top spot in their league, making them a favourite in league playoffs.
They won their first playoff game against Ponoka 4-1 Feb. 2, but lost out on the gold medal after losing 1-3 to the Red Deer Royal Blue at the Collicutt Centre Feb. 6.
“We had lots and lots of chances but their keeper was very good,” said Stewart.
Although the team didn’t clinch the league title, they have qualified for provincials after beating the U19 Camrose boys Feb. 3 in the first round of the Central Alberta Soccer Association (CASA) playdowns.
The Camrose U19 team plays in an Edmonton Tier 3 league.
The victory gives them a berth in the U19 indoor soccer provincials, to be held in Edmonton from March 15 to 17.
The team has two weeks to rest and then will be back to practice, prepping for provincials.
“They’ll be ready come provincials,” said Miles.
“They’re a very skilled team.”