The graduating Grade 12 Oak Bay soccer players after the AAA Island final at Oak Bay High on May 15. The team is at the AAA provincials in Surrey May 29 to 31. From left are ​Presley Rangel, Naomi Devette, Lily Wray, Claire Mundell, Jasmine Lee, Katie Muirhead, Zoe Stewart and Ariel Schellenberger. Missing are Grade 12 players Starrla Webster and Ella Mickelberry. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Oak Bay edges Nanaimo in final day of soccer provincials

Early loss forces Oak Bay out of top-four berth

An early loss set the Oak Bay senior girls soccer team back from a chance at reaching the final of the B.C. AAA High School Soccer Provincial championships in Surrey last week.

However, it was a sweet finish, as the Bays edged Nanaimo District 3-2 in their final game on Day 3, finishing ninth while Nanaimo was 10th.

It was a bit of redemption for Oak Bay having lost to Nanaimo in the AAA Island championship final two weeks ago, at Oak Bay High.

READ MORE: Nanaimo clip Oak Bay in 2019 Island soccer final

“[Oak Bay] played two really strong games to finish, and competed really well,” said Rich Fast, who co-coaches the team with Katie Baker. “We just lost an unfortunate game in pool play that sent us down in placement.”

The provincials were May 29 to 31 at Surrey’s Cloverdale Park.

Oak Bay was winning against Sardis on Day 1 when they suffered a tough “spell” and lost their focus, allowing Sardis to tie and win the game, 3-2. Oak Bay defeated North Peace by the same score and then faced Centennial.

READ ALSO: Lower Island athletes shine at provincial track and field championships

If they had beat Sardis, Oak Bay only needed to tie Centennial, which they were on track to do with a scoreless game going into the final minutes. Because the Bays lost to Sardis, they needed to beat Centennial, and made a costly push.

Centennial took advantage and scored a late goal and went on to win the provincials.

“We gave Centennial arguably their hardest game of the tournament,” Fast said. “We loaded the team up front and pushed for a goal, and it cost us defensively. It came down to that bad spell against Sardis. If we had won that game and tied Centennial, which we could have, we would have gone through as a one or two seed into the final.”

Earlier on Day 2 the Bays beat Handsworth 4-0 to set up the ninth place match against Nanaimo. Centennial defeated Fleetwood 2-1 in the championship final. It was Fleetwood’s sixth straight championship final appearance.

Regardless, it was a really rewarding experience for the Oak Bay senior team which graduates an abnormally large group of Grade 12s this year and will enter a transition with only four Grade 11s that can return next year.

“That’s high school sports,” Fast said. “We lost some key Grade 12s but you build through development. We have a strong group of juniors and we have had a lot of juniors on the field [for the senior team] this year.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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