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Bonnyville U17 boys win gold at provincial soccer tournament

Bonnyville team goes undefeated to take Tier 4 Alberta title

BONNYVILLE - The U17 Bonnyville boys’ soccer team is the provincial champion. 

The team came home from the Alberta Indoor Soccer Tier 4 Provincials in Edmonton over the March 15 weekend with the gold medal.  

Head coach Josh Phillips said the team is proud of this win. He said the team, that is based in Bonnyville, has players from across the region and that Keanan Mah and Jed Hansen from Lac La Biche joined the squad for the weekend tournament as replacement players.  

The team faced opponents from Edmonton and Calgary leagues to win the title. 

“While we knew we could be competitive, we also have a relatively young team from the smallest community represented in the age group,” Phillips told Lakeland This Week. “We have a lot of skill on our team but needed to work hard and play a near-perfect tournament in order to hold off the bigger city teams.”  

The trip to the gold medal included four games. The first was a 2-0 victory over Edmonton’s Terwillegar team, then a 5-1 win over a Calgary club team. Bonnyville then beat the Battle River team from Leduc 4-1 in the semifinal game and topped off their undefeated march with a rematch against Terwillegar.  

The gold medal match, Phillips says, “was intense and full of drama.” 

“The rematch on Sunday afternoon saw us come out a little bit nervous,” he said.  

Neither team scored in the first half, but Terwillegar opened the scoring early in the second half, putting Bonnyville behind on the scoreboard for the first time all tournament. 

Ambulance and last-second goal 

The second half of the gold-medal game was dynamic. The last six minutes of the game saw Bonnyville tie the match, scoring while shorthanded following a red-card player ejection, and then taking the lead with less than a minute of regular time remaining. But in the final seconds, a goal-crease scramble saw a young Bonnyville player suffer a head injury that required an ambulance crew to be dispatched to the field. The player was assessed and remained in the field house as medical staff monitored his condition. 

Following a 20-minute delay, the game resumed with just seven seconds left on the clock. Another goal-mouth scramble in front of the Bonnyville net resulted in Terwillegar scoring the tying goal with just one second left on the clock. 

 Adding to the adventure that was the last half of the game — it took penalty kicks to determine the winner, said Phillips. 

When Bonnyville put the winning shot behind the Terwillegar goalie, the players ran to their injured player who was still on an ambulance stretcher to celebrate. The young player was taken to hospital for further observation but was released soon after. 

 Phillips said it was a game like no other. He said the team showed great spirit and perseverance, adding it was good to see the team rally around their injured teammate. 

“It was a well-fought win and showed a lot of character by the boys,” he said. “Of course, both teams' thoughts were with the injured player who we're happy to say is recovering at home.” 

The newly-crowned indoor provincial champs will all have a few weeks to recharge before they tackle the outdoor season. 

“The boys will get about a month's rest before the outdoor season starts, where we'll hope to repeat with another strong showing at outdoor provincials,” Phillips said.

Chris McGarry

About the Author: Chris McGarry

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