McTavish the hero in tourney final

At first glance, the men’s final of the annual “Borderland Ball Blast” soccer tournament here Sunday afternoon—an all-Thunder Bay affair—didn’t seem to have a lot of local story lines.
But by the time the final whistle blew, local product Adam McTavish had proven that wasn’t the case at all.
With BDO and the Euro Stars knotted at 1-1 at the end of regulation time, it was McTavish, a member of the Euro Stars since moving to Thunder Bay last year, who played the role of game-breaker.
He fired a laser-beam of a shot under the crossbar in the early minutes of the extra session, giving his squad a 2-1 victory and cementing the tourney title.
“Honestly, I just wanted the game to be over,” said McTavish, whose squad was playing its fifth game in less than 48 hours, with only a handful of spares on their bench.
“[But] all the pain almost disappeared right at that second.”
“I was just happy to score a big goal like that,” he added. “I was pretty excited.”
The 23-year-old’s overtime heroics marked the second time in as many years that a McTavish has decided the outcome of the annual tournament, which this year drew a field of eight men’s teams and five women’s ones from across Northwestern Ontario.
Last year, McTavish and his brother, Kyle, both suited up for Gillons’—one of a number of local men’s squads—and helped pace that team to the final of the annual “Ball Blast,” during which Kyle netted the game-winning goal, also in extra time.
With Gillons’ unable to line up enough players to defend their championship this year, Kyle McTavish elected to join his older brother for the weekend and the pair now can lay claim to an unprecedented “Ball Blast” winning streak.
The top local team this year was Subway, which defeated Dryden United 4-1 in Sunday’s consolation final to claim third place.
On the women’s side, the Push/Gleeson squad (Thunder Bay) blanked Kenora-based Dino’s United 1-0, also in an extra session, to capture top honours.
Jen Pochailo scored the overtime marker in that one
Gillons’ was the top local entry in the women’s division, placing third.
Although both divisions featured all-out-of-town finals, Borderland Soccer Association president Shane Beckett said the local entries certainly held their own in the three-day event.
He noted many of the teams that travel here for the tournament borrow players from other clubs in their league to fill out their rosters, so they often come with all-star squads.
“What’s good is that our local clubs, just our regular roster teams, were competitive,” Beckett said. “Definitely we hold our own around here.
“It was fairly competitive. The level of play, I thought, was great,” he added.
Beckett also noted both the Euro Stars and another Thunder Bay men’s entry—the Spiders—play in that city’s top division, which is one level higher than what the local league is classified as.
“We knew they would come with a lot of flair and a lot of skill,” Beckett said of those two teams. “It was good to see the other teams could compete with them.”
Win or lose, and despite Saturday’s soggy conditions, Beckett said all the teams seemed impressed with how things went at this year’s tournament.
“Everything was very well-organized, the officiating was good, and the level of play was good,” Beckett enthused. “After the finals, all the out-of-town teams . . . said, ‘Sign us up [for next year], you don’t even have to phone to ask.’”
For his part, Adam McTavish said he’d definitely be back to defend the tournament title.
“Even if you don’t win it, it’s nice to come back and play here and to see all my friends,” he remarked. “Each year that tournament gets better and better.”

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