THE Handsworth Royals senior girls soccer team won bronze at last weekend's AAA provincial championship tournament held in Surrey, just missing a trip to the final after losing their semifinal in that beguiling soccer score settler, the shootout.
The Royals, North Shore champions, racked up two wins and a tie in pool play to win their group and advance to the semifinals where they faced West Kelowna's Mt. Boucherie secondary.
With a berth in the final on the line the Royals pressed for much of the game but came up empty against Mt. Boucherie's stout defence and strong goaltender. The score stayed knotted at 0-0 throughout regulation and 15 minutes of overtime, sending the game to the dreaded shootout where the Royals lost by a goal.
"It's a very tough way to lose," said Handsworth's Carrie Sorokan, co-head coach along with Anne Farnam. "There has to be a way to do it and it's just unfortunate that we weren't able to score during regulation time because we certainly had a lot of good chances. They were good shots but they had a good keeper."
Semifinal losses, particularly heartbreaking overtime ones, can sometimes lead to bronzegame letdowns but the Royals weren't about to fall into that trap. Looking to take home some kind of hardware, Handsworth came out flying against Coqutilam's Dr. Charles Best secondary and ended up with a 4-1 win and a place on the podium.
"We were able to play quite a strong game which was really to the girls' credit because after having already played four games in two days the girls were quite sore and they were quite physical games that we had," said Sorokan. "They basically picked themselves up and they did what they needed to do. It was a nice game to watch, they played a good game of soccer and everybody was able to participate."
The Royals scored bronze despite missing two of their star Grade 12 midfielders for most of the tournament. Kendra Perrin missed the entire event because she was playing with Canada's U21 national field hockey team at an event in Argentina while Christine Zwimpfer tried to play through an ankle injury but could only stay on the pitch for about 20 minutes before being shut down for the rest of the tournament.
The rest of the team worked to fill the voids, helping the Royals get back in the medals after missing provincials the past two seasons. Handsworth won the title in 2009 after finishing second in 2008.
"We were very proud of the girls," said Sorokan. "They stepped up and they dug down deep. We have players on our team who play at all levels of community soccer so it's just really nice to see a group of girls come together and they all have a strong work ethic and they were very supportive of each other. It really showed what a team can be. They all came together with a common goal and they're all very supportive of each other, they like each other and it's always been a really great atmosphere on the team and I think that's probably what helped carry us through."
Leading the way was Lindsay Johansen who was named the team's representative on the Commissioner's 11 tournament all-star team.
"She had a great tournament," said Sorokan. "She played pretty much all the games so she must have been exhausted but she just came through. She's one of those kids that leads by example, she's not overly vocal but she definitely has this quiet sureness about her and I think it's really nice for the girls to be able to play with her."
Johansen is bound for Arkansas State University on a soccer scholarship in the fall.
Sorokan credited her team with playing hard and fair throughout the tournament despite the tough circumstances of their semifinal loss.
"They came together and they knew what they needed to do, wanted to do and they just really worked hard and were very supportive on and off the field," she said. "They were very gracious when they weren't successful in that game that would have put us into the gold/ silver final and also I think that they were also gracious winners when they played the bronze medal game."
Argyle secondary, the 2011 champions, also made the trip to provincials where they finished ninth. The Pipers recorded a 7-0 win over Prince George, a 0-0 tie against the eventual champions from Panorama Ridge and a 1-0 loss to Point Grey in pool play to finish third in their group.
They went on to win their final two games, 3-2 over South Kamloops and 2-1 over Claremont, to claim ninth spot. Danica Mitchell was named to the Commissioner's 11 team.