Ball Blast

Two local teams emerged victorious last weekend in the annual Borderland “Ball Blast” soccer tournaments at St. Francis Sportsfield.
The women’s final Sunday afternoon went to penalty shots after a 10-minute sudden death overtime failed to break a 1-1 tie, with Investors prevailing 3-1 over Gillons’ (also from Fort Frances).
Then in the men’s final, Tagg’s nipped Thunder Bay United 2-1 on Mike Webb’s goal in the final five minutes of play.
The women’s final started out slowly but heated up as Investors’ players tried to get past the indomitable defensive effort put forth by Gillons’, who were short of players for most of the weekend.
“It was a very tough game. We were pretty much even in terms of skill but we definitely turned it up,” said Investors co-captain Jodi Johnson.
“We played our game in the second half. In the first half, it took us a little bit to get it together, but we were twice the team in the second half,” she added.
Johnson and teammate Keira Main controlled the ball for much of the game but had a hard time scoring with Jessica Wilson guarding the Gillons’ net.
“In play, we dominated the game, but their goal keeper was really strong keeping the ball out,” noted Investors’ keeper and co-captain Caroline Spencer.
Main scored Investors’ first goal, with Johnson and Mandy Wilson tallying in the shoot-out.
Gillons’ captain Laureen Cousineau netted her team’s only goal.
“Very very exhausting” was how she described the match. Cousineau added the team had had to scramble for players all weekend.
“We played with eight and nine players every game, except for this game we had 10,” she said. “With people out of town . . . we just didn’t have anybody.”
Tagg’s (Fort Frances) and the Dryden Steelers also competed in the women’s tourney.
In men’s action, the victory by Tagg’s marked the end of the team’s three-year-long wait for the trophy.
“It was a really tight game,” noted captain Thor Ruppenstein. “They’re [Thunder bay United] not a very fast team but they’ve got a lot of experience.
“They’re very hard to play against, they’ve got very good ball control,” he remarked.
The match was dominated by the Ruppenstein brothers, one of whom plays for Thunder Bay United. Olaf Ruppenstein scored Tagg’s first goal, putting it in the right hand corner with his head after teammate Mike Webb passed him a high ball.
Thunder Bay United came back and tied the game with Matthias Ruppenstein cutting in on the left side and following up with a hard shot on the short side of the net.
But then with five minutes left in regulation time, Webb buried the ball on the long side of the net, sealing victory for Tagg’s.
“What helped us is we had a lot of young guys, we had a lot of speed,” Thor Ruppenstein noted, adding Tagg’s also had the wind in their favour during the second half.
“And we had a lot of subs. We were able to sub over when we were tired while them guys had to play with the same people.
“It feels good actually getting the trophy back into town,” he added. “We lost two years to Kenora, now finally we’ve got it back into our hands.”
Tagg’s beat out four other teams, including Nova and ITS (Fort Frances), the Dryden Heat, and Dryden United en route to the “Ball Blast” crown.
Both winning teams will use their prize money to help fund a trip to a tournament in Thunder Bay on Labour Day weekend.