Annual ‘Ball Blast’ set for this weekend

Despite the absence of defending champions, the fifth-annual “Ball Blast” tournament, hosted by the Borderland men’s and women’s soccer leagues, still is looking to provide a fun weekend of competition.
The Kenora Rangers men’s team dropped out of the tourney at the last minute while MEC, the defending women’s champs, since have melded with the Merchants to form one team.
As of yesterday, six teams are confirmed for the men’s tourney, with two other entries possible at the last minute. AAA is the only Borderland team not competing.
MEC/Merchants, Tagg’s, Gillons’, and the Dryden Drillers will compete in the women’s draw.
Both events will kick off early Friday evening and run through to Sunday afternoon’s finals.
Men’s organizer Olaf Ruppenstein said the tournament has stayed roughly the same size since it started but he has noticed more people passing by tend to watch a few minutes at a time.
“It’s taken off really good. Some people seem to stop in and then go all day long. Lots of games going on,” said Ruppenstein. “But we were hoping to get bigger in terms of teams.”
If they attract all eight teams, Ruppenstein said two pools of four will play each other in a round-robin format, with the top two teams from each pool playing each other in a one-game semi-final.
Those two winners then will meet in the final. First place wins $1,000 while second and third place get $500 and $250 respectively.
Women’s tourney organizer Jodi Johnson has noticed that while their entries are lower than the men’s, the games are played at a more intense level compared to regular league play.
“They’re generally pretty good games with low scores,” Johnson said of the tournament. “It’s definitely more competitive and we play at a different level.”
In addition to the soccer, a social will be held Saturday night at Red Dog Inn starting at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5 in advance or $6 at the door.
In related news, the women’s soccer season keeps chugging along.
MEC (13-3-3) has pulled away from Gillons’ (9-5-5), with the Merchants (7-8-1) and Tagg’s (3-15) rounding out the four-team league.
Laureen Cousineau (Gillons’) and Keira Main (MEC) continue to separate themselves from the rest of the leading goal scorers with 21 and 18 respectively.
Johnson (MEC), Kristina Tolen (MEC), Amanda Allen (Gillons’) each have nine tallies.
No updated information was available for the men’s league.