Reynolds Roadrunners take the Ryan Cup as city champions with a win over the Oak Bay Breakers Thursday. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

Reynolds Roadrunners take the Ryan Cup as city champions with a win over the Oak Bay Breakers Thursday. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

Roadrunners repeat as Island soccer champs, move on to provincials

Reynolds top Claremont in Saanich shootout

The Reynolds Roadrunners swept their way to a AAA senior girls Island soccer championship in Nanaimo earlier this week but one game stood out in particular.

After defeating the Mount Douglas Rams in Round 1 the powerhouse Roadrunners narrowly edged the Claremont Spartans 4-3 in an old-fashioned shootout between the two Saanich soccer rivals. Goalkeeper Jessica Gardiner saved Claremont’s fourth and fifth shooters to advance the Roadrunners.

Reynolds then went on to defeat Dover Bay 4-1 and Nanaimo District 6-2 to win the AAA title.

Superb Reynolds striker Cecilia Way, a Grade 11 athlete, led the tournament with 10 goals. It’s another feather in the cap for the Roadrunners, who defeated Oak Bay for the Ryan Cup city crossover championship last week, and have successfully won the Ryan Cup and AAA Island championship two years running.

All that’s left is to crack the top-four at provincials in Kitsilano from May 31 to June 2, thereby bettering their disappointing 13th place finish from last year, said coach Mike Warren, who comes to the team after winning three Island titles between the junior boys and girls teams in the last two years.

“I expect provincials to be a great test for us,” Warren said. “A significant strength of ours is being able to raise the level of our game as the stakes are raised. Reynolds has a history of winning in recent years, and success on the field is less an expectation, and more a habit.”

The Roadrunners are led by a core of Way and a pair of Grade 12s committed to the UVic Vikes, Abby McKenzie (centre back) and Annalyn Kind (left forward). The latter duo has picked up scholarships towards their UVic education beginning next season.

That said, the Roadrunners’ run of success has certainly not been breezy. And to those who criticize the team for being permitted to use its soccer academy players (which is a new ruling in B.C. School Sports), notice that Way, easily a top-five striker under the age of 17 in B.C., is a catchment kid, born and raised in Saanich.

“We have girls who work hard for the sake of the team, and our chemistry and tight knit relationship with each other means we are less concerned with individual accolades and instead solely focused on team success,” Warren said. “As coach I have consistently worked on focus. When other teams try various tactics to get under our skin or change the way we play, we stay true and do all our talking with the scoreboard.”

Another key factor for Reynolds is its depth, which showed in the overtime Ryan Cup win against a very strong Oak Bay team. The Roadrunners carry 20 players of whom Warren uses without hesitance.

“You won’t see a dip in intensity or quality on the field,” Warren said. “Playing in hot temperatures or playing in lengthy tournaments, our team has great depth and endurance to outlast and outpace other strong teams.”

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