STELLARTON – All season the Northern Nova United senior B women’s soccer team has had their sights on provincials.
As hosts they knew they would have a spot, but it had to be determined which spot they would hold. After defeating the CC Riders 3-0 on Sunday in the Highland Soccer League final they will head into this weekend’s championships as the top seed from the Highland Region.
They open play on Saturday at noon against the Bedford Titans. Their second game is at 4 p.m. against the South Shore.
“I think we’re fortunate to be hosting provincials,” said head coach Melanie Hill. “We’re able to show off how good of a soccer club we are and the great volunteers we have to help us make it a great tournament.”
On Sunday the final round-robin games will all be played at 10 a.m. with NNU playing Halifax Dunbrack Explosion. The bronze medal game will be held at 2 p.m. with the gold medal game to follow at 3 p.m.
All but two games on Sunday morning are being held at the Sobey Soccer Complex in Stellarton. North Nova and Parkdale will host two of the final round-robin games.
“We’re happy we came out as Highland 1, but we aren’t focusing on who we’re playing,” said Hill. “We have to play every game as hard as we can. It’s not focusing on who, just focusing on giving it our all every game.”
With last Sunday’s victory in their league final they improved their record to 13-1-1 in league play this season. Hill said their success could partially be attributed to changing the club’s program this year.
“We split up the women’s side this year, made a more competitive team and put a little more time into training,” she said. “Obviously it was successful and beneficial.
“We did it more for the program to try and grow it and keep women playing soccer because there was always a drop off after U-18 and we wanted to keep these girls playing.”
Looking at particular players who have had a major impact this year, Hill said Jackie Ryan has been an impact player in or out of the goal. On the backend she said Katelyn Lewis is a crucial part to their defence, while Kara Power and Katherine Sykes are key assets in the midfield.
In preparation for the tournament off the field this weekend Hill said they formed a committee two months ago to start the process.
“There are lots of different things we have to make sure are done like getting the fields and hospitality area looked after to making sure we have our field marshals in place,” she said. “We’re also going to have a canteen, need to get the program for the weekend done and we’re getting T-shirts made. It’s been lots of tiny jobs we’ve been working on to bring it all together.
“We’re really fortunate to be hosting provincials here at our field with the great volunteers we have and hope that the hometown crowd gives us an added advantage going into the tournament.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris