The North Island Secondary School girls soccer team earned its fifth straight trip to the provincial championships with a runner-up finish in last week’s Island A tournament in Duncan.
NISS swept through its pool round unbeaten to earn a berth in the final against provincial powerhouse Glenlyon Norfolk. Playing its third game in a seven-hour span, NISS fell 10-0 to Glenlyon, which outscored its opponents 33-0.
“We were the only team in the tournament that had to play three games in one day,” said Kathy Mitchell, who coaches the Norsemen along with Adrian Pendergast. “We had a discussion with the organizers about that.”
The May 13 final was also played in 24-degree heat, which didn’t seem to suit a North Island squad that opened the morning with a lopsided win over Gold River and followed with a 3-1 semifinal victory over host Duncan Christian at midday.
“The heat took its toll, no doubt,” Mitchell said of the 3:30 p.m. final.
The top two teams from the Island both advance to the 16-team provincial finals, set for May 29-31 at West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver.
NISS opened tourney play May 12 with a 4-2 win over local rival Port Hardy Secondary School, the team’s only game that day.
“It was a very, very good game and could have gone either way,” said Mitchell. “(The Whalers) hit a few posts and crossbars.” PHSS also faced Glenlyon Norfolk and fell 6-0 to the eventual champs before bowing out of contention.
Despite the rough ending, the tournament continued a half-decade run of success for the NISS girls program, which finished as provincial A runner-up in 2010.
“The more I’m talking to other coaches, the more I realize it’s a commitment to coming to practice,” Mitchell said of the team’s favourable finishes at Islands. “And we’ve got a great group of girls.”