Top high school girls soccer teams spring into action at UVic

Once again, high school senior girls’ soccer teams from across the province will have an opportunity to shine at the annual UVic Nike Spring Classic tournament.

The No. 2-ranked Fleetwood Park Dragons of Surrey, No. 3 Oak Bay Breakers, No. 6 R.A. McMath Wildcats and honourable mentions Reynolds, Kelowna Secondary and South Delta will be among the 22 teams competing at UVic fields, beginning this afternoon.

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Those teams are all ranked in the triple-A pre-season polls. Local squads from Stelly’s, St. Michaels University School, Royal Bay, Claremont, Lambrick Park, Glenlyon Norfolk School, Spectrum, Parkland and Carihi of Campbell River will also compete.

“It’s a non-stresser-type tournament, although you do see some of the better teams in the province there so you get a chance to see your team compete against mainland and Interior teams,” said Stelly’s head coach and Lower Island commissioner Jackie Cunningham, whose Stingers won last year’s tournament, 1-0 over Reynolds.

“It’s a great opportunity for the girls to play against some of the best teams and players from across the province. You’ve also got coaches from colleges across B.C., as well as Tracy [David, head coach of the Vikes women’s team], who runs the tournament with her staff. It’s a fantastic venue, the tournament is so well run, so it’s a great opportunity for the kids.”

And a great chance to be seen and recruited.

“Tracy and I scout and we bring in a couple of other people to help us out with extra eyes,” said Vikes’ assistant coach Dave Dew. “It’s a great situation for us because some of these kids play club soccer or in the Vancouver Island Premier League on the upper or lower island. Or they may be in Vancouver and not be HPL [High Performance League] kids or in the BCSPL. They might be in metro level or club level there so it’s a better opportunity to hot-house and have everybody in one place to look at them.”

Dew, who also heads up Highlanders FC of the USL Premier Development League, says the competition on the Island itself is at a high quality at the senior girl’s level.

“You look at some of the single-A and double-A teams,on the day and they’re quite competitive, even with the triple-A teams. The GNS, Lambrick and SMU kids — overall, when you have them in their own little categories it’s great for their playdowns. In a situation like ours here you can see where they all measure up.

“It gives kids from smaller schools an opportunity to play against bigger schools and bigger programs,” added Dew.

The tournament begins at 3:30 p.m. today on the turf fields with McMath vs. Spectrum; South Delta vs. Parkland and Kelowna vs. Lambrick Park. There are games at 5 and 6:30 p.m. and the championship final is set for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Centennial Stadium.

Stelly’s, which is coming off a 2-2 league draw against Mount Douglas on Tuesday, finished fourth at the Carihi tournament last weekend.

CORNER KICKS: Stelly’s centreback Mara McCleary, last year’s MVP at the UVic Nike tournament, is heading to UNBC this fall while teammate Kelsey Boudreau is going to UVic.

mannicchiarico@timescolonist.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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