PORT McNEILL—Port Hardy Secondary School’s senior boy’s soccer team got the first win of the season under its belt last week, coming back from a goal down to beat NISS 3-1 in Port McNeill.
The Hardy side made an aggressive start, pinning NISS back for the opening 10 minutes and peppering the goal with a series of shots from the edge of the 12 yard box.
NISS soaked up the pressure, however, and began threatening the visitors’ goal with a series of quick counters as the Port Hardy side continued to press forward.
Despite being pinned back, NISS made good on its threat and struck first with a route-one goal. A quick clearance over the top found McNeill’s Tyren Dustin in front of a chasing pack with acres of space. Dustin made no mistake, rounding the onrushing Quentin Wamiss and slotting home.
PHSS didn’t take long to reply, Darryl Coon latching on to a defence-splitting through ball and rifling home past Brodie Wilson to level the score.
Both sides carved out chances to break the deadlock before halftime but neither could find the crucial touch. NISS’ quick countering and several close calls from corners caused the PHSS side to take a more cautious approach as much of the remainder of the half became a battle for midfield control.
The scales started to tip in PHSS’s favour in the second half as NISS — playing without substitutes — began to tire.
Still, it took a little magic to break the impasse and it came in the form of a dazzling run from Port Hardy’s right winger Tyrone Wallas. A dummied cross from the winger drew a defender across and Wallas rushed through the gap and past the covering defender to the touchline before squaring for Brendan Williamson to volley home from the six-yard line.
Buoyed by the goal, PHSS once again surged forward in numbers and pressed the Port McNeill outfit back and were rewarded with the game-winner.
Josh Walkus latched on to a through ball just inside the box, beating his man and dinking past Wilson. Walkus ran in and hammered home from a yard out to make sure as a last-ditch challenge came in.
“I thought they played excellent,” said PHSS coach Mike Cleary after the game. “Our passing was superb, it really opened up the game. We were resilient after they scored and fought back hard.”
PHSS traveled to Duncan this week for the Island A tournament at the Cowichan Sportsplex where it faced Victoria’s St. Andrew’s Wednesday, after the Gazette went to press. The result determined the North Island side’s second opponent today.
Cleary was quietly confident of his side’s chances. “We’ve got a good shot against St. Andrew’s,” he said, “it’s anybody’s game. It’s not going to be easy but we’ve a good shot at getting to the finals.”