Stelly’s Stingers strong once again on the pitch

Stelly’s Secondary girls soccer team hosting AAA Islands and provincial tournament this season.

Stelly’s forward Sophie Bladford (in yellow) juggles the ball against a Centennial (Coquitlam) defender in Central Saanich April 2. Stelly’s won the game 5-1.

Stelly’s Secondary is hosting both the girls AAA soccer Island finals and B.C. provincial championship this season and plan to work hard to get there.

Coach Jackie Cunningham notes the Stingers, as host, have a bye into both tournaments. The team, however, returns much of its core players from last season. Cunningham said their league play has started and her team is 2-0 with four games left to play in the short season. Stelly’s will add exhibition games to their schedule to gain experience, such as their April 2 match against             Centennial from Coquitlam. Stelly’s won 5-1, and will be in Campbell River this weekend for a 16-team event.

They add Ryan Cup play in Greater Victoria, as well as a 24-team tourney at the University of Victoria April 16 to 18.

“I’ve got a great bunch of kids,” said the coach. “All have been playing together for a long time now and many were part of our junior girls team that won the Islands four times in a row.”

Stelly’s will face tough competition in the league again, in the form of Oak Bay, Belmont and Reynolds.

Cunningham is confident her group of athletes will do well.

“The league is strong, but that’s the case every year.”

Cunningham said the players need to work on overcoming lulls in the action — and avoid getting burned when they happen.

Otherwise, she said the girls pass well and aren’t rushed on the attack or when they control the ball.

“We need to focus on patience and control and not going too fast when attacking.”

The Stingers, in their game on April 2 against Centennial, showed how quickly they can turn around a long possession by their opponents. Giveaways or interceptions by strong defenders had the ball quickly down-field. Stelly’s had many breaks on the opponents’ net, where they built up a 3-0 lead at the half.

A lull early in the second half allowed Centennial to ruin the shutout bid, but the Stingers worked hard to regain the ball and control the rest of the game.

Stelly’s hosts the AAA Islands May 7-8 (juniors) and May 11-12 (seniors) at the Braefoot and Hampton fields.

The AAA provincials will be held at UVic May 28-30.

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