The Sunshine Coast Sockeye water polo club took the B division crown at the recent UBC Fall Classic water polo tournament on Sept. 29 and 30. The Sockeye defeated the Calgary Masters by one goal in the final to post an undefeated record in the tournament of three wins and one tie.
The annual co-ed event at the UBC outdoor swimming pool drew 14 teams from western Canada and the U.S. with only five teams in the elite division and the remainder competing for the B division title.
The Sockeye beat the University of Victoria in their first game before settling for a tie with the tough Seattle Otters in their second game.
“We were able to run up the score in our third game against a team from Saanich and that gave us the confidence to bring a spirited effort into the final against Calgary,” said coach/player Darren Molder. Calgary was one of the favourites in the tournament and Molder credits their squeaker 8-7 victory to “excellent goaltending, a suffocating defence and some timely goals.”
The Sockeye benefitted from picking up a few off-Coast players to round out their bench for the tournament including a “real” goalie, which gave the team confidence to post an aggressive offence.
“In the last two tournaments, goals were a little harder to come by,” Molder said.
“Having enough players so you can substitute is critical, and we suffered from a lack of numbers at previous tournaments.”
The Sunshine Coast Sockeye train one night per week at the Sechelt Aquatic Centre but have been practising at Trout Lake during the summer. Molder said their success was completely unexpected because the Sechelt Aquatic Centre was closed for maintenance during the month leading up to the competition.
“There were some really top-notch teams that train year-round, and most of us hadn’t picked up a ball or even swam in a few weeks,” Molder said. “So we landed back on the ferry with huge grins but also quite a few sore shoulders.”
Despite their recent success and championship crown, the Sunshine Coast Sockeye are still looking to boost their numbers and encourage anyone — beginners to old pros — to come out to their 8 p.m. Tuesday evening practices at the Sechelt Aquatic Centre.