Look up the definition of grit, and don’t be too surprised if a picture of the U18 Langley Falcons soccer team comes up in your search engine.
They managed to win a bronze medal at the B.C. Girls B Cup Provincial Championships in Burnaby (July 4-9) despite an ever-lengthening list of player injuries that included a concussion, a fracture, neck injury, torn hip muscle and a dislocated knee.
Thanks to players cutting their recovery time short to compete, Falcons won the bronze medal match against a determined Comox Valley Blaze team 2-1 in overtime.
Falcons head coach Cory Couture called it “unbelievable.”
“I’ve coached for 20 years, and I’ve never met a group this tough,” Couture observed
Among them, Kate Roxburgh, the player who scored the winning overtime goal on a header off a corner kick from Sarah Toews with four minutes to go, playing with a hip injury, a torn labrum.
And Sheleena Wiley, who took the field wearing a leg support for a hamstring injury.
Team captain Jenna Dolphin, who dislocated her knee at the Coastal Cup qualifier for the provincials, played wearing a knee brace.
Couture described how Mel Capstick, who hurt her C2 in her neck in a surfing accident in December, came back to play, despite being in considerable pain.
“She would come off with tears in her eyes but refused to not go back in,” Couture related.
“She has been on this team since she was U6 and her determination to play was unbelievable, just like the other injured players.”
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In the two weeks leading up to the tournament, two players were involved in car accidents, and only one, Emily MacLeod, was able to play by game time.
During the provincials, Falcons lost starter Maryke Claris-Young, who suffered a concussion in the second game of the championships.
Brooke Lindberg, who broke her arm and played in a cast for part of the season, had it removed two weeks before the provincials.
Falcons, who normally have a roster of 17 players, have been competing with 14 since Christmas because of injuries and had to call up two U16 players for the Burnaby games.
Couture described the victory as a “dream ending for these amazing, gritty players to end their youth soccer careers.
It was close.
Falcons were leading 1-0, courtesy of a first-half left-foot kick by Lucia Orozco, but with just three minutes to go, a Blaze goal tied the game.
Coming off the field before overtime began, the players were determined to win.
“I didn’t have to say a word,” Couture related.
It’s been a “pretty good” final season for the team and the coach, Couture stated.
Falcons have scored 100 goals this year, 47 of them by Wiley, recording 24 wins, one tie and two losses this year with only 31 goals scored against, in no small part due to the efforts of goalie Laura Couture, who has also had 10 shutouts.
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