Tigers girls soccer team takes part in provincial rural soccer championship


By: Lanny Stewart


The Neepawa Tigers girls soccer team took part in the provincial rural soccer championship in MacGregor and Austin over the weekend.

The Tigers dropped a 6-1 decision to the Shoal Lake Sharks on Friday morning in their first game, dropping to the consolation side of the event.

"The girls soccer team hasn't been in the provincials for a few years now, so we knew heading into that game that we would have some jitters to work with," said Tigers head coach Kaiten Critchlow.

After defeating Dauphin 3-1 to advance to the consolation semifinal, the Tigers wound up scoring five goals in their next contest, but it wasn't enough as Neepawa was eliminated from the event, dropping a 7-5 decision to the Hapnot Kopper Kweens.

"I had two goals competition-wise for the team this year," said Critchlow. "To reach provincials and to win a game at provincials. The girls accomplished both of those [goals]."

The Tigers are a relatively young club led by three Grade 12 players: Christina Paramor, Courtney Pegoski and Taylor Kilborn. Critchlow says this year's provincial championship was all about gaining valuable experience for future years.

"Now the girls know what it takes to compete at that level and will have that with them to start next year. With the group we have and the girls coming up, if everyone continues to work hard and they buy into our playing style, I think we're gonna have a lot of success for the foreseeable future."

The Stonewall Rams wound up winning the provincial crown, while Hapnot claimed the consolation title. Sarah Lyle of the Rams was named the tournament MVP, while Neepawa's Lina Gordon was named a tourney all-star.

"Lina had an amazing tournament," said Critchlow. "She's only in Grade 10 and we didn't make a championship final, so that tells you right there how strong of a tournament she had to get this kind of recognition.

"As a Grade 10 player, she already has the ability to get by any player she's faced this year," he continued. "She has an incredible ability to break by the defence, has an accurate shot, and is a great facilitator for her teammates. Teams often key on her, sometimes man-marking her for an entire game, and she still breaks through."

The Tigers earned a berth to the provincials after defeating Niverville in a wildcard game. Prior to provincials, Neepawa finished second in the Zone 7 standings, defeating Minnedosa 2-1 in a shootout to advance to the final where they wound up falling 6-3 to the Rivers Rams.

Meanwhile, the Neepawa Tigers boys team went through a rebuilding year, says head coach Daryl Critchlow.

"The team showed progress throughout the year and we will hope to continue that growth into next year," he said. "We had great contributions from our Grade 12s this season and I am excited to see the young talent we have return to the field in 2014."

Neepawa struggled throughout the year in zone play, losing all six of their regular season games. In the playoffs, Neepawa lost 5-2 to the Rivers Rams in a semi-final. Rivers would go on to win the Zone 7 championship and, along with host MacGregor Mustangs, represented Zone 7 at provincials.

Steinbach wound up winning the provincial crown on the boys side, while Rivers ended up as the consolation winners.