Indoors, outdoors, it doesn’t matter. The Penelakut Island men’s soccer team is enjoying a dominant start to the 2023 season.
After winning the Cowichan and Campbell River indoor tournaments earlier this year, the Thunder took its game outdoors for the first time this season with the same result. Another championship.
This one was extra special, the Totem Tournament in Victoria that has a long and prestigious history.
“The last time we won it was in 2000, 23 years ago,” said Thunder coach Mark Brown Sr. “It’s a hard tournament to win. Everybody from all over B.C. comes in.”
And there was also three teams from Saskatchewan in the field of 20 top-ranked men’s teams.
But the Thunder got it done again with four straight victories over the Easter weekend that included a couple of blowouts and two barnburners.
Brown said the high calibre of soccer being played by several members of his team on a regular basis showed in the final analysis.
“We had some experience. A lot of the guys play Div. 1 with the Cowichan Axis. Almost half of them are on that Div. 1 team. They’re young, but they’re playing Div. 1 all year.”
The Thunder opened with a 12-1 win over The Pack, a pick-up team from different regions of the province. Patrick Brown, son of the coach, asked if they wanted to call the game with 20 minutes left with such a lopsided score and that’s exactly what happened.
Devin Jack led the scoring with four goals, Shane Brown had a hat trick, Caden Jack added a pair and singles came from Michael Daniels, Henry James and Jacob Ready.
The second game was against Lotus FC from Big Lake, Saskatchewan and the Thunder won handily again 8-0. Shane Brown, Caden Jack and Ryan Sampson all scored twice, with singles from Brendon Getty and Michael Daniels.
Things really got interesting as play moved into the semifinals Saturday, with the Thunder matched up against the Musqueam Blues.
The game finished deadlocked at 1-1 after regulation time and went straight to penalty kicks for a decision.
“Our goalie made two saves and we got all four,” noted Mark Brown Sr. in what amounted to a 2-1 victory for the Thunder in the record books.
Ryan Sampson scored the Thunder’s goal in regulation time. And goalie Cordell Jack provided the heroics with those two saves so the Thunder didn’t need to take its fifth shot with the victory locked up at that point.
The final pitted the Thunder against the Kingcome Wolves that turned into another great game.
“We started slow, we were down 1-0 at the end of the first half,” observed coach Brown. “We tied it and went ahead and they tied it again.”
It came down to the late stages with Henry James scoring on a nice shot to give the Thunder a 3-2 victory. Other goals came from Ray Sam and Michael Daniels.
Cordell Jack received the honour of being the tournament’s best goalie. Michael Daniels, Henry James and Devin Jack all received all-star awards.
Next on the calendar for the Thunder is a revived tournament in Saanich April 21-23 that hasn’t been held for five years. And then it’s on to the Cowichan Buckskin Tournament in Duncan on the Mother’s Day weekend to see if the Thunder can keep its winning streak going.
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