‘Ball Blast’ set to explode this weekend

The Borderland Soccer Club is set to host their annual “Ball Blast” soccer tournament this coming weekend (Aug. 11-13) on the St. Francis fields.
Club president Shane Beckett said the tournament is a fitting way to wrap up what has been another excellent soccer season.
“For a lot of teams it kind of caps off the season,” he said. “It’s something to look forward to at the end of the year.
“We do a playoff run after this locally but it seems like there’s a lot more emphasis and pride put into how you do in the tournament than how you do in the playoffs,” he added.
The “Ball Blast” tournament, which features both a men’s and women’s division, will host teams from across Northwestern Ontario in addition to several local squads.
Five teams, including sides from Thunder Bay and Dryden, will compete for the men’s title.
According to Beckett, the relatively low number of teams can be attributed to several factors.
“Sometimes it’s a tough time of year with weddings and stuff,” he said before adding, “and sometimes we conflict with the out-of-town leagues’ playoffs.”
But while the numbers may be down on the men’s side, the women’s side boasts the largest field in recent memory.
“It’s a real up year,” Beckett said. “We have seven teams and I can’t remember ever having that on the women’s side.
“Things are obviously looking up,” he added.
Three of the four local women’s sides will compete against two teams from Thunder Bay as well as teams from Dryden and Kenora.
While Beckett is happy with the number of teams competing this weekend, the odd numbers—five men’s teams and seven women’s teams—have made formatting the tournament difficult.
Each team is guaranteed a minimum of three games.
The men will compete in a single five team pool playing a round robin to determine playoff seeding.
The top two teams will then play in the championship game while the third and fourth seed compete for third-place.
On the women’s side, the seven competing teams have been divided into two pools of three and four teams respectively.
They will then play a round-robin to determine the seeding for the playoff round with the top two teams in each pool advancing.
The playoff round will then feature crossover matches with the top seeds playing against the runners-up in their opposite pool with the winners advancing to the championship game and the losers playing for third-place.
The third-place team in the smaller pool will also play an exhibition game against the third-place team in the larger pool first thing Sunday morning in their final game.
Each of the tournament’s games will feature 30-minute halves.
In the event a game should go to overtime during the playoff round, the teams will play two additional ten minute halves using the golden goal rule; meaning the first team to score wins.
If the teams are still tied after extra time, the game would then be decided by penalty kicks.
Each of the teams participating at “Ball Blast” will be competing for cash prizes.
And while the prize amounts have yet to be determined, Beckett said they will be substantial.
“We try to put as much of the entry fees into the prizes so it’s worth everyone’s time to come out,” he said.
In years past, the third-place team has traditionally seen their entry fee returned to them, the second-place team wins their entry fee plus 50 percent and the winner takes home slightly more than that.
“Ball Blast” organizers have been able to invest so much of the entry fees back into the prizes thanks in large part to the social that takes place Saturday night at Warp 9.
In addition to helping subsidize the prizes, the social is also an excellent opportunity for the teams to socialize after a long day of competition.
“The soccer is good but the party is better they say,” Beckett commented.
“Ball Blast” kicks off this coming Friday (Aug. 11) at the St. Francis Sportsfields.
The action gets underway at 6:30 p.m. and will feature matches between several of the local squads.