Morning Star Staff
Eric Ladner warned his Fulton Maroons to expect the best from the VSS Panthers in the North Zone Senior AA Girls Soccer League playoff final Thursday at Grahame Park.
The Cats, who suffered a lopsided loss to the Maroons in the regular season, took Fulton to the limit before falling 3-2.
Both teams advance to the Okanagan Valley championships starting Tuesday in Kamloops.
Super striker Cayleigh Graham produced a pair of goals for Fulton, including the 3-1 snipe on a gorgeous 35-yard breakaway run after a sweet feed by fellow forward Erin Delaney.
“That was the best I’ve seen VSS play this season,” said Ladner. “They battled us really hard and made us work for loose balls.”
Maddi Catt put Fulton up early with a long shot that fooled the VSS keeper.
Saige Woodliffe equalized for the Panthers before Graham cruised on another zig-zag breakaway from centre, making it 2-1 Fulton at the recess.
VSS pulled to within one in the dying minutes when Kendra Ostafie went up and nodded in a header past Fulton keeper Emily Dahl, a volleyball star learning the position on the fly from Ladner. Elena Gaskell sent in the corner for Ostafie’s beauty goal.
“I think our central midfielder Carmyn Beaumont was our Player of the Match,” said Ladner. “She controlled the play with lots of possession and moved the ball well.”
Fulton iced the Kalamalka Lakers 7-0 in Tuesday semifinals with Graham, Nicole Doerges and Kate Allison each scoring twice and Dahl pocketing the clean sheet.
VSS clipped the Seaton Sonics in a shootout in the other semi.
The Sonics also qualify for the Valleys and are on the same side of the draw with Fulton, Valleyview Vikings of Kamloops and Princess Margaret Mustangs of Penticton.
Fulton faces Valleyview Tuesday morning.