Locals excel at ‘Ball Blast’

Fort Frances soccer showed once again it boasts some of the best talent in the area during the Borderland Soccer Club’s annual “Ball Blast” tournament over the weekend here.
Pharmasave blanked Thunder Bay’s Tony and Adam’s team 2-0 to capture the men’s division title.
Meanwhile, Curves made it to the women’s division final before losing a close 3-1 contest to Kenora United.
Borderland Soccer Club president Shane Beckett credited the youth soccer system in Fort Frances with developing quality players who can compete with the best in the region.
“The youth program has done a lot for soccer here and you can see that every year when we bring in the out-of-town teams,” he noted.
“Usually both on the men’s and women’s side, there’s someone in the money and that’s a really good thing.
“The youth soccer program has really built things up so that now there’s a lot of people playing, especially on the women’s side of things this year, that are products of that,” Beckett added.
“In years past, we didn’t have that and we used to get whopped by the cities.”
Pharmasave’s Kai Winkler got his team off to a strong start in the men’s final, scoring early to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
The Fort Frances squad then spent the rest of the first half frustrating the visitors with their staunch defence.
The second half again saw Pharmasave get off to a strong start as striker Olaf Ruppenstein hit the post with a beautifully hit ball.
The insurance goal came with roughly 20 minutes to go as Ruppenstein fired a shot into the upper corner of the net to seal the win.
The victory earned Pharmasave $750 while Tony and Adam’s took home $450 as the tournament’s runner-up.
Third place in the men’s division went to Dryden United, who pocketed $300 for their efforts.
In the women’s final, Kenora United got off to a strong start, dominating play throughout the first half. The visitors pressed their advantage, eventually taking a 1-0 lead courtesy of a goal by Bailey Ostenfeld.
Curves regrouped during the break and came out strong to start the second half. Kate Basaraba evened the score at 1-1 by striking a beautiful ball across her body and into the far corner of the goal to beat the Kenora keeper.
But that goal seemed to re-energize Kenora and they re-applied the pressure on the home team’s defence. Their attack came in waves, producing one quality scoring chance after another.
Had it not been for the stellar netminding of Curves’ keeper Ashley McFarland, United may have easily found themselves up by several goals.
Despite McFarland’s best efforts, however, Kenora eventually would guarantee themselves victory courtesy thanks to a pair of late goals by Kelly Alcock and Joelle Charlebois.
Kenora United won $1,100 as the tournament champs while Curves took home $600 as the runner-up.
Thunder Bay’s Gleeson’s finished in third place, earning $300.