For the first time in 16 years, a Cranbrook team made it into the JulyFest soccer tournament ‘A’ division final, but couldn’t fight their way to the championship in a 3-0 loss to a team out of Idaho.
Following a round robin record of a win and two losses, the Unicorns FC headed into elimination games on Sunday with a win over Tizoc’s Warriors and the Nelson Net Predators, which put them into the final against the Green Monarchs.
“The gas tank’s a little on empty by that sixth game and it just wasn’t there, it wasn’t clicking for us, we had a couple bad bounces and we lost in the finals,” said AJ Wheaton.
Led from the midfield by Chris Rushworth, who was named the team MVP after the final game, the Unicorns tried to be the first local team to win the tournament since 1997.
The Unicorns lost their opener to the Montana Rapids, but rebounded against the Net Predators. They closed out the round-robin with another loss to their eventual opponents in the final.
However, the Unicorns hit their stride on Sunday, blitzing past two teams for a rematch with the Green Monarchs.
“It was quick-paced game, quite quick actually. Those boys are fast, it was mostly middle of the field, middle of the pitch play,” said Wheaton.
“But it was a fast-paced game, lots of subs and the heat was just intense. The boys were running on E, mostly pushing through on heart, I think.”
The women’s team, playing as the Narwals, made it into the semifinals, as they also participated in the ‘A’ division.
A few other local teams played in both the men and women’s ‘B’ and ‘C’ and Masters divisions, as the tournament featured 61 squads that came in from B.C., Alberta and the northern U.S.