By Brad Newton, Head coach, Stettler FC under-18 boys
Stettler’s under-18 boys took Three Hills by storm, winning the provincial Tier 4 boys’ rural soccer championship on the weekend.
With an undefeated league championship record and another winning performance in the provincial playdowns, the guys were determined to have a triple-crown year.
You could just tell the guys wanted the gold medals badly. They came to play and would not be denied.
All the players were at the top of their game. Their passing support was great, as they controlled the ball and had possession more than the other teams. The whole team worked well and united.
The coaching staff would like to thank the fans for the support. They were awesome. We had as many fans or more than the host team, and they definitely cheered louder. The fans were as much into the game as the team.
The first game for Stettler was against Carstairs. Settler’s tournament MVP, Braden Bowie, opened the scoring. Battling off defenders and outworking them, he released a great shot and sent the ball in. A while later, Carstairs was able to tie the game. That would prove to be the only goal Stettler would allow in the tournament.
Not to be outdone, Stettler came back hard as Anthony Vanderburg, with a beautiful shot, scored to give Stettler the win.
Stettler’s second game was against Fort Saskatchewan. Stettler had the mindset to shut out this team, and that we did with a score of 1-0. Stettler outplayed the opponents, having control of the ball for the better part of the game.
The players played with a lot of class this game, as it got rough. We played hard but clean. Hard-working Braden Bowie scored the only goal of the game, sending us to the gold-medal game.
For the final, we faced the hometown team, Three Hills. We knew it would be a hard game, but we made a game-plan and stuck to it. Three Hills came out at us hard, but again our wall of defenders shut them down.
Ricky Armstrong blasted a shot past the Three Hills keeper halfway in the first half. As Stettler’s keeper was injured in a collision with a There Hills player, coach Newton changed formation of players as he attended to keeper Cole Nichols on the field. That proved worthy, with an extra defender, as Three Hills kept coming at us. We simply shut them down and got the ball up to our strikers.
With 15 minutes left in the second half, Dustin Newton outraced the defenders, and as the keeper came out to challenge, Dustin gave the ball a light chip shot up and over the keeper. As the ball bounced into the empty net, the celebration had begun.
The team and fans erupted, as we knew we were well on the way to gold. It seemed to take forever for the last whistle to blow, but when it did, it was all worth it, as coaches and players stormed the field and gathered with the keeper in the 18-yard box as provincial champions.
The coaching staff would like to congratulate all Stettler players, because you’re all worthy provincial champions.