Oak Bay looks to end title drought at girls soccer provincials

Several times the bridesmaid and never the bride, the Oak Bay Breakers senior girls soccer team is hoping to hitch itself to a provincial triple-A championship as the tournament begins today at the University of Victoria.

“We’ve been to the final four to six times in the last 12 years. It would be nice to finally get over that hump,” said Breakers head coach Brent Garraway, who has led his team to four silver medals and a bronze over that span.

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“The girls have been working their butts off all season and all year, so we’re hoping to have a successful tournament.”

The Breakers, who are Island champions, Reynolds Roadrunners (Ryan Cup victors) and host Stelly’s Stingers, who lost the Island final to Oak Bay, are all participating in the 16-team tournament that kicks off at 9 a.m. today and concludes with the championship final on Saturday at noon.

Coach J.J. Atterbury’s Roadrunners are in Pool A with Kelowna, Dr. Charles Best and the No. 3-seed Argyle Pipers of North Vancouver. Stelly’s has No. 1 Elgin Park, Kitsilano and Princess Margaret in Pool B and Oak Bay is in Pool C with No. 4 Panorama, South Delta and Sir Winston Churchill. Pool D includes No. 2 R.A. McMath, Burnaby North, No. 5 Fleetwood and Mt. Baker.

Oak Bay is seeded sixth, Stelly’s 10th and Reynolds was an honourable mention.

“We need to get a good game in [this morning] to get into good position in the afternoon,” said Garraway, whose team plays Sir Winston Churchill at 11 a.m. on Field 2A and South Delta at 3 p.m. on Field 3.

Garraway adds it will be a little different playing the tournament at home.

“I like to have them away for a full three days for the bonding experience, but they are at home in their own beds and eating home-cooked meals,” he said.

There is also the fact that the last time Stelly’s played host to the event, in 2010, Claremont came up winners before their home fans.

“So it must be an advantage, right?” Garraway added with a chuckle.

Stelly’s coach Jackie Cunningham was just anxious to get play started after handling much of the planning duties.

“I’m looking forward to Saturday, after going through 100 emails a day,” she said with a laugh. “It’ll be nice to get started.”

The Stingers face Kitsilano on Field 4 at 9 a.m. and then Princess Margaret on Field 2B at 1 p.m. today.

“You’re going to need a little of everything to get through a tournament like this,” said Cunningham. “You need some luck, some bounces and you have to stay injury free.”

Teams also play just 35-minute halves, so as Cunningham said: “They’re short games, so you have to get your business done.”

Reynolds opens at 9 a.m. on Field 2A against Kelowna, before tackling a very stubborn Argyle team on Field 4, a grass pitch compared to 2A, 2B and 3 which are all turf, in the afternoon.

First-place finishers in each pool advance to semifinals on Friday at 1 and 3 p.m. with the winners moving on to Saturday at noon on the grass at Centennial Stadium., following the bronze game at 10 a.m.

mannicchiarico@timescolonist.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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