The Sunshine Coast U-17 Storm rep boys are having quite the year so far, ever since their new soccer season started back up in early September after 10 long months without any games, due to COVID-19.
Having seen most of last season cancelled, the whole team was definitely raring to go once they finally got to play again after such a long layoff. That energy and excitement has translated into some real success because, seven games into their season, the boys remain undefeated so far, with five wins and two draws. And if you include their final four games last fall, they have now gone 11 games – and over a year – without a loss.
This past weekend the boys were back in the city playing one of their main rivals for their Division 1 league title, VUFC Fury, and the two teams battled to a nil-nil draw. To be clear, this was not one of those boring nil-nil draws. No, this was a game filled with great chances and great saves at both ends. We’re talking about a thrilling nil-nil draw.
That game, like most of their recent games, was played in the pouring rain, but the week before that The Storm got to play one game in the glorious sunshine here at home in Gibsons at Shirley Macey Park. That game was versus North Van Fury, not to be confused with VUFC Fury (yes, there’s a lot of rage and fury in the city).
Playing out in front of their hometown fans against this North Van Fury team, a team The Storm has always had very close battles with, it was always going to be a very tight game decided by terrific defense and a couple of outstanding plays.
The defense came naturally for a team that has only given up six goals in their seven games so far this season, while scoring a total of 23. But North Van Fury’s defense is also quite solid, so scoring required some top-quality play and the boys provided it with flair.
With the game stuck at 0-0 with five minutes to go in the first half, Hayden Van Der Stelt, who was celebrating his 16th birthday, made a run that was spotted by Krystof Krutsky, who played-in a fantastic 40-yard ball that was brilliantly met in the air and put away by Van Der Stelt. The whole park, with all those hometown fans, went wild. It was definitely The Goal Of The Season so far and it was most certainly the greatest birthday goal the team has ever seen in its many years of playing together.
The boys started the second half as strong as they had finished the first and went two goals up after just four minutes, when Taiyo Blackwell perfectly set up Billy August for another great goal.
Both teams battled hard until the final whistle, with The Storm holding on to their first clean sheet of the season and getting the 2-0 win. This past week, of course, saw them get their second straight clean sheet, so it’s obvious that Storm keeper Duncan Service and the whole team in front of him have definitely upped their already-stellar defensive tenacity.
The Storm are now in first place in their Division 1 league. They have many games to come between now and early-March, when league play wraps up, but, sadly, it looks like no more home games until late-January. When they do play at home again, they’re definitely hoping for the same sort of enthusiastic crowd that showed up and cheered them on at their last home game two weeks ago.
The rest of the league better watch out because these boys have come to play and, regarding all that aforementioned pouring rain, let’s just say that with a perfect Storm like this who needs sunshine!