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Thrilling finishes add up to provincial bronze for South Delta

Sun Devils roar back from three goal deficit in second half to reach podium at girls soccer championships in Kelowna
It was another outstanding season for the South Delta Sun Devils senior girls soccer team with a South Fraser championship banner and third place at the provincial championships. Mark Booth Photo

A trio of dramatic finishes put the South Delta Sun Devils back on the podium for the second straight year at the B.C. AAA Girls Soccer Championships in Kelowna.

The Sun Devils roared back from a 3-0 second half deficit to defeat Reynolds 4-3 in extra time in the bronze medal game, played in near 30C temperatures on Saturday (June 3).

South Delta entered the 16-team tournament as the defending champions and fought its way out of a highly competitive round-robin group to reach the semi-finals for the 10th time in their 20-year run of consecutive provincial tournaments.

An opportunity to defend their title ended in a 2-0 semi-final lost to eventual silver medalist Argyle on Friday afternoon. The North Shore opponent broke a scoreless deadlock with a pair of second half goals to avenge last year’s final four defeat.

The bronze medal seemed out of reach too until South Delta launched a comeback against its Victoria opponent, just 18 minutes from full-time.

Two of the goals came on penalty kicks, including the equalizer after a hand ball.

“We had all the momentum at that point and there was no way we weren’t winning that game,” said Sun Devils coach Brent Sweeney. “The girls were just outstanding in their effort. Every single one of them. They just never ever quit, ever.”

It took a pair of thrilling finishes just to reach the semi-finals. The provincial tournament format has always put a heavy emphasis on pool play with only the group winner staying in championship contention.

South Delta opened with a 3-1 win over Stelly’s from Saanich, then edged Burnaby Central in penalty kicks after the teams had battled to a scoreless draw. The girls then needed a penalty kick goal in the dying moments to slip past Walnut Grove 2-1 to secure the group. The Langley school had equalized moments earlier on a penalty kick of its own.

“The 0-0 game against Burnaby Central easily could have been 5-4. They hit the crossbar twice and had a girl who was just dropped from the (Whitecaps) REX program who was phenomenal. They also had some pace on the wings that could create chances. At the same time, we had our chances too,” added Sweeney.

“Winning your group is so hard to do. You must have a good team but also the breaks too. You need to get a call or a balance go your way, something to happen to make it possible.”