Rattlers girls soccer squad is confident group heading to provincial tourney in Prince George
For the 16th time in the past 17 years, the Osoyoos Secondary School (OSS) Rattlers senior girls soccer team is headed to the provincial championship tournament.
The Rattlers qualified for the provincials after reaching the championship game two weeks ago in the Okanagan Valley championship tournament in Kelowna.
The Rattlers lost 3-0 to Similkameen Elementary and Secondary School (SESS) from Keremeos in the valley championship tournament final game.
“It was a very close game, but they scored early in the second half on a penalty kick and then the wheels sort of fell off,” said head coach Steve Schulting. “The big goal heading into the valley tournament was to make the final and qualify for provincials, so we accomplished our goal and now we’re hoping for bigger and better things at the provincials.”
The Rattlers defeated Immaculata High School from Kelowna in their opening game in a penalty shootout at valleys and this was a big win as Immaculata is the defending provincial champion, said Schulting.
They also defeated St. Anne’s high school from Kamloops 3-1 to qualify for the championship game.
Schulting and all 18 girls on his team – along with his assistant coaches and several parents who will act as chaperones – will be boarding the bus next Tuesday after school to make the long trip to Prince George, which is hosting this year’s British Columbia Senior Girls 1A Soccer Championship tournament.
“It’s a long 10-hour trip so we’re going to take our time and split the trip over two days,” said Schulting.
A total of 16 teams will be competing for the provincial championship trophy and Schulting expects the Rattlers will be ranked sixth or seventh based on the fact that’s where the Okanagan Valley championship is usually seeded at the provincial tournament.
The key to success for his team all season long has been their commitment to hard work and playing as a team and that must continue if the Rattlers are going to have any success at provincials, said Schulting.
“The strength of our team is definitely hard work and determination,” he said. “We’re going to have to be the hardest working team in the tournament to have any kind of success.
“Our biggest drawback is the lack of experience at this level because many of the teams we will be facing have girls who play a lot of league soccer and play all year long, while almost none of our girls play in leagues and they don’t play the entire year.
“For us to enjoy any kind of success, we’re going to have to outwork teams and wear them down.”
The Rattlers are going to have to win four games to win it all and Schulting believes his team is capable of surprising a lot of people.
“I think we have the kind of team that can be competitive with any team we face,” he said. “You lose one game and you’re done, but I think the girls are ready to turn in a fantastic performance and I know our only goal heading to Prince George is to win it all.”
With the recent announcement that OSS will be closing at the end of this school year, his players are extremely motivated to end their high school soccer careers on a very positive note and hopefully return from Prince George holding a provincial championship trophy, said Schulting.
“It’s going to be an emotional tournament because our girls are like everyone else in the community and very upset that the school they love is being closed,” said Schulting. “I’m hoping we can use that emotion as a positive and that the girls will play harder than ever before because they want to end their high school careers on a very positive note.”
You need a deep team when you are forced to play several games in a short period of time and Schulting said he plans on using all of the players on the squad in Prince George.
Schulting said his girls won’t know which team they are facing in their opening game until they get to Prince George, but they all know there won’t be any easy games once you get to the provincial level.
“We have to be prepared to play our best soccer because there won’t be any easy games,” he said.
The tournament begins next Wednesday, June 1 and the championship game is set for next weekend.