The Whistler Secondary School (WSS) Storm girls' soccer team put up its best-ever performance at the BC School Sports 'A' Provincials in Kelowna on the weekend.
Even with a fourth-place finish out of the 16 participating clubs, coach Shannon Lovell knows the team wasn't that far out of the medals.
"We knew we really were going to the top four. I really think they had the opportunity to be first or second and they had the opportunity to do well," she said.
"We had a really good core group of girls this year... They held their own. They stayed determined and they worked really well together and each individual came together and made it happen.
"They all kept scoring, our defence held them off and our goalie (Caleigh Lamont) was amazing."
The Storm, the Lower Mainland zone champions, started strong with shutouts of Nakusp (4-0) and Fort St. James (5-0) before clinching their group with a 3-1 win over Aberdeen Hall. In the semifinal, WSS fell 1-0 to the eventual champions, Credo Christian, and fell to host Immaculata in the bronze-medal game. Lovell said Credo was an impressive club with older players, but the younger Storm weren't far off from their pace.
"Credo Christian was a team we only lost 1-0 to and they were amazing. They had a very senior team with a lot of Grade 12s and a lot of Grade 11s, which we didn't have," she said. "They've played together for a long time. They were fit and they were melding together very well. We held them off as much as we could."
Lovell explained several of the Storm's players entered the tournament with nagging injuries that were only magnified in the baking Okanagan sun on the weekend.
"We had pre-existing injuries that some of the girls just couldn't shake off and we had fatigue with the heat. The heat was just playing into it and a lot of the girls just couldn't stay out there for that long. It was maybe 10- or 15-minute stints," she said.
With three private schools taking the medals, a common result, Lovell said the Storm made a stand as the top-finishing public club.
"They have a lot of money that goes into their club," she said of the medallists. "They can go to tournaments. They can travel a lot more and they just have a lot more time to dedicate to that one individual sport where Whistler girls are playing all different sports or doing all different activities that keep them active.
"The other public schools that were in the provincials were rooting for us. We wanted to do it because it hadn't been done in a long time."
Lovell also noted several of the other schools have weather conditions that are more conducive to much longer training periods, as the Storm's season came and went in under a month.
Still, with only two graduating players, WSS could be primed to take home some hardware in seasons to come.
"Next year could be the year," she said. "The Grade 8s were phenomenal. They stepped up to the plate and they held their own."We're losing two great Grade 12s (Nessa Schnur and Stephanie Derynck) but gaining (as well). The top spot could be theirs next year."