PORT HARDY — Following on the heels of its successful hosting of the Vancouver Island A wrestling championships in February, Port Hardy Secondary School has picked up another major tournament this week.
But school officials were left scrambling when one of the four participating schools pulled out one day before competition was set to begin.
The 2011 Island A Senior Boys Soccer championships will take place Wednesday, Oct. 26 at PHSS with the host school, North Island Secondary School of Port McNeill, and St. Andrews Academy of Victoria taking part.
Port Hardy faces St. Andrews at 10 a.m. in the opening game, local rivals PHSS and NISS square off at noon and NISS takes on St. Andrews at 2 p.m.
"It's a huge deal for the North Island to have other schools come up here to compete, especially in a tournament like this," D'arcy Deacon, Port Hardy's head coach, said last week when the tourney was announced. "It's pretty uncommon to get teams up here, so this is big for us and for the whole North Island."
Chemainus Secondary School was to have participated, but informed PHSS athletic director Malcolm Fleeton Tuesday morning that the team would not make the trip.
The winner of the round-robin tourney qualifies for the 2011 provincial championship tournament in Kelowna the first week of November.
Fleeton said PHSS secured the tournament, which had been listed a vacant by the B.C. School Sports Association, just a week ago.
"We didn't think it would be right for the Island not to send a team to provincials," Fleeton said.
He originally drafted a two-day schedule of four games Wednesday and two more Thursday, Oct. 27. But the Chemainus withdrawal forced a shuffling of the schedule, which was converted into a one-day, round-robin affair on Wednesday.
Last Wednesday, PHSS hosted NISS in a friendly match to tune up for the tourney, and posted a 3-1 victory. Travis Bleaney scored all three goals in the win, the last one coming on a five-metre header off a nice crossing pass from Darryl Coon.
Nick Gachter scored for the Norsemen, briefly tying the game 1-1. All scoring came in the first half as goalkeepers Mitchell Walker of Port Hardy and Phillip Woehry of NISS shut the door in the second half.
The game was the first for both teams this fall.
"It's a pretty short season," Deacon said.