PORT McNEILL—Nature threw nearly the full spectrum of its weather at last weekend’s annual Mud Bowl soccer tournament. But despite high winds, periodic showers and even a spot of hail, it never devolved into an appreciable amount of mud.
Even so, the host Port McNeill Soccer Association parlayed conditions into a solid home-field advantage, particularly in the upper age divisions.
A pair of upsets in the U18 semifinals pitted the third-seeded Port McNeill Rona Rumblers against fourth-seeded Alert Bay in the final. Port McNeill raced to a 3-0 halftime lead behind two goals from Tyren Dustin and one from Tyson Cadwallader, but the impending blowout turned into a nail-biter.
Second-half goals by Roy Wadhams and Devin Williams drew Alert Bay within 3-2, and the visitors were still pushing when the whistle finally blew on the Port McNeill victory.
Port McNeill’s Balls of Fire, another No. 3 seed, also walked away with the U15 boys champion’s T-shirts, thanks to a big second half against the Port Hardy Blazers, the No. 4 seed. The teams were tied 1-1 at intermission, with Port Hardy’s Josh Walkus scoring on a penalty kick in the 20th minute and James Bramham levelling the score with his own penalty kick eight minutes later.
But Port McNeill erupted in the second half and eased away to a 4-3 win.
The U-15 girls final matched two rival Port McNeill squads. And, even though they advanced as the top two seeds, the division still ended in an upset as the Strikers topped defending champion and top-seeded Kick Ass, 2-0. Randi Ward and Mercedes Trevor found the net for the Strikers, and teammate Karlie Shambrook earned a whipped cream pie in the face from coach Dwayne Rudy to celebrate her birthday weekend.
The tourney pattern reversed in the U12 girls final, where Port Hardy’s Green Hurricanes swept unbeaten through the division and claimed a 2-1 win over Port McNeill Team 2 in the evening final. Kayley Clair scored both Port Hardy goals, while Abby Roberts of Port Alice tallied for the No. 3 seeded Port McNeill team.
Alert Bay won the boys U12 title with a 5-3 victory over Port McNeill.
The weekend also included dozens of games in the mini divisions for players under 10 years old, including a series of exhibitions from tot teams from Port McNeill and Port Alice.