By MARKUS WENZEL
U-18 team ‘soccer dad’
In what was the final youth soccer game for several of the players, coach Colin Walde’s boys U-18 Slayers made no mistake in earning the right to hoist the shiny vessel on a chilly Sunday in Victoria.
With half a dozen regulars away, leaving a barebones team with only one substitute, the Slayers were in tough against a deep Gorge side.
The play started out with Salt Spring dominating the possession and chances, but unable to find the back of the net throughout the first half. Jonah Baker and Ian Hall played strong in the midfield, preventing Gorge from getting any traction.
The momentum began to shift in the second half, however, with sides trading attacks. Ultimately it was Gorge who drew first blood in the 65th minute, on a nice finish from a failed clear about 15 metres out.
The Slayers were tiring, but in the 80th minute Colton Archer took control of a free kick at the half to feed a nice ball into Noah Hart around the Gorge 18-yard mark. Somehow, with three defenders and a goalie to beat, Hart worked his footwork magic and managed to squeeze a shot off the post and in for the tie.
The final 10 minutes was all Gorge, but adept defence led by Jackson Walde and astute goaltending by Joshua Love kept the score tied.
Fans were surprised to see a goaltending change for the shootout, with Liam Wenzel sporting the gloves. Gorge only converted one of their shots while Salt Spring hit all of theirs, securing the victory and the cup for the Slayers. Most valuable player honours went to Wenzel.
Four of the players are graduating from the team after playing soccer together since they were in kindergarten. They are Hall, Walde, Baker and Wenzel.