SMUS Blue Jags find way to Island soccer gold

Tied 2-2 in penalty kicks and called on to be the last of the first five selected in the nerve-racking scenario, Meggie Edwards made the long walk from centrefield to the penalty spot for the St. Michaels University School Blue Jags.

The Grade 11 student then stepped up and confidently struck her kick into the top corner to Ladysmith 49ers goalkeeper Meryssa Joyce’s right to hand the Blue Jags’ the eventual 1-0 victory.

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After 95 minutes of scoreless play, the Blue Jags outlasted Ladysmith 3-2 in kicks to win the double-A senior girls’ Island soccer championship at SMUS on Tuesday afternoon.

“I usually go to the right. Usually when I shoot the other way I miss them, so you may as well stay with what’s successful,” said Edwards, who exuded confidence prior to the winning kick. “I like the situation — it’s a good adrenalin rush.”

Ladysmith still had an opportunity to tie it, but the final kick slid wide.

Earlier, Blue Jags goalkeeper Anna Mollenhauer had dove to her left to make a spectacular stop to give Edwards the chance to secure the lead. It was Mollenhauer’s second save in kicks.

“I was really nervous, especially because it was such an intense game,” said Mollenhauer. “I didn’t really get time to just relax. You always have to be super focused.”

The Grade 11 keeper obviously guessed correctly on her final save on a perfect kick that was heading just inside her left post. Her pure athletic ability got her there in time.

“I can usually read what they’re trying to do, but that one I didn’t. I just thought, ‘As soon as she goes, I’m going for it.’ It just happened to be the right time and the right height,” she said. “I hate it when they look right at me, because I can’t tell what they’re thinking or trying to do.

“This feels really nice because it has been a lot of hard work,” added Mollenhauer of the title.

It was all the product of two days of stellar play for the Blue Jags and Ladysmith, who both earn trips to the B.C. championship tournament.

“It was a great game and a great two days,” said SMUS coach Nikki Kaufmann. “I set the challenge out to see if we could play some of our best soccer and continue to build on the success that we’ve had.

“This team, I don’t know what it is, but they just seem to take every challenge that I throw at them and run with it and just up the ante every time, so I’m a happy coach.

“Ladysmith battled right to the end. It could have been anyone’s game going into PKs and our goalie, Anna, came up huge, as she has all year for us.”

Carihi edged Brentwood College 2-0 in extra time in the third-place game and now all four teams move on to provincials (hosted by Carihi) from June 2-4.

In triple-A play at Dover Bay, the Oak Bay Breakers defeated Reynolds in penalty kicks (scoring on all five opportunities) to take a 2-1 overall result in the Island championship. Sophie DeGoede had scored in regulation time for the Breakers.

“Three Island wins in a row, I’m really proud of the girls,” said Oak Bay coach Brent Garraway.

The Breakers used goals from Janessa Lane and Holly Goodacre to defeat Stelly’s 2-0 in semifinal play in the morning. Natalie Koehn’s goal gave Reynolds a 1-0 victory over Dover Bay in the other semifinal.

Both teams advance to provincials at South Delta on June 2-4.

mannicchiarico@timescolonist.com

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