Photo by Don Fennell
In the sixth season of Game of Thrones, one of the feature tracks is “Trust in Each Other,” which is heard as the Knights of Vale defeat the Bolton soldiers and rescue the doomed Stark force.
Trusting each other has also been the calling card of the Richmond Strikers this season.
In pursuit of the provincial championship that eluded them last year, the under-15 girls’ rep soccer team carried the weight of being the only local side into this year’s Coastal Cup held in Richmond May 4 and 5. In typical Striker fashion, they responded to the challenge.
Though penalty kicks were required to decide the championship final against Fraser Valley Selects, the Strikers showed the resolve—and patience—to emerge victorious and advance to the Provincial A Cup July 4 to 7 in Surrey.
“We seem to be able to stay calm under pressure,” said associate coach Greg Ng. “And we trust in our goalkeeper Makayla (Kusch).”
Playing their second Coastal Cup final in as many years (they also won in 2018 to advance to the provincials where they placed third) on May 5, the Strikers dominated territorially—particularly in the first half—but were unable to break through. As a result, the game went into overtime scoreless. Then early in the first half of overtime, sure-footed Teagan Ng scored to put Richmond up 1-0. It appeared the goal would hold up until a last-minute shot by Fraser Valley found the back of the net, forcing the result to be decided on penalty kicks.
Demonstrating their innate calmness and skill, Teagan, Lexy Shury, Mahara Remtula, Karina Weavers and captain Jaya Punia 4 scored not 5 all cleverly placed the ball behind the Fraser Valley keeper.
“(Penalty kicks) is something we’re used to. We’ve done this many times,” said coach Ng, noting the team was in the same situation in 2018 as well as in this year’s semifinals when they out a 2-1 win over Vancouver Island Riptide in Campbell River.
The Strikers, which has lost only one match in 18 games—to West Vancouver early in the season—are keen to redeem themselves at the provincials. If the resolve the team showed at the Coastal Cup is any indication, they’ll be well positioned.
“Our goal has been provincials,” said Teagan.
Reflecting the close bond the players enjoy, captain Punia called each player by their nicknames to receive their gold medals at the Coastal Cup.
“Some of us have known each other since we were three,” she notes. “We’ve played together so long there’s nothing new. We’re focused, but we also like to have fun.”
Added Teagan: “It’s kind of what sports is all about.”