Pemberton Secondary School was bedeviled by some tough circumstances at the Boys A Provincial Soccer Championships in Kamloops over the weekend.
In group play, the Red Devils boys' soccer team played to a 1-2 record at the tournament, held Nov. 5 to 7, sandwiching its win between a pair of defeats.
The Red Devils dropped their opener 2-1 against Meadowridge, knocked off Queen Charlotte 3-1 and then were blanked 2-0 by eventual champions Glenlyon Norfolk.
Provincial dreams dashed, the Red Devils were edged out in match-ups with Lakes District and Unity Christian to ultimately finish in 12th, an improvement of one spot from last year.
With illness and injury holding some players out and weakening some who managed to suit up, head coach Phill Read explained he was proud of how everything ultimately played out.
"They fought very hard and played some excellent games. Not to take anything away from the opposition — there was always a very strong opposition — and the team did stand up to that test very well," Read said. "We kept the scores down. Every game was just one or two goals.
"The guys held on in every game."
Read was particularly enthused with how Pemberton matched up against the Glenlyon Norfolk in a match requiring the Red Devils to hunker down and play with goalkeeper Matthew Den Duyf out.
"We had to put up some fairly strong defensive tactics. Normally we play a certain formation and we did pull that back a little bit," Read said. "We limited the attack to just one or two people on a breakaway. It was a great performance by the defence.
"We had a couple of very strong offensive chances but we just couldn't quite get one away."
Nick Dan scored for the Red Devils to initially give them the lead against Meadowridge. In Game 2, Grade 8 sniper Oscar O'Connor opened the scoring before Ty Archer wired home the eventual winner. Noah Malthaner added an insurance marker.
"Ty Archer scored an absolute cracker," he said. "It was top corner, long distance, a beautiful shot."
Read was also enthused by O'Connor, who found his way into the middle of the action.
"He's only about four feet high and weighs about two stone and somehow he managed to, under a lot of pressure in the six-yard box, pop a goal in," he said.
Among a cold virus working it way through the squad, the Red Devils suffered a major loss midway through the tournament as Commissioner's Award winner Chris Read was hobbled before being unable to continue.
"Chris Read suffered a long-standing injury to his ankle that's been bugging him for awhile. He made it through the zones with it but he reinjured it in a separate game afterwards," the coach said. "For the last game, we did lose our goalkeeper Matthew (who was replaced by Kevin Linklater). He did hyperextend his knee."
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