AMHERST – After a year of training, fundraising and preparation, the Special Olympics Amherst Soccer Team has returned from the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games with a Silver Medal.
The games were a truly amazing experience for the athletes and coaches.
As part of Team Nova Scotia, the athletes were part of the largest games in Special Olympics Canada history with 1,300 athletes and 700 coaches and mission staff taking part in the five-day event.
The games were in Vancouver and ran from July 8 to 12 at the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver.
The Amherst Soccer Team was named to Team Nova Scotia in September 2013, and spent the next 10 months training for the experience of a lifetime.
The training paid off.
After two days of division play the team had a win and two ties putting them into the B Division.
Robert Babineau led the scoring in divisional play with a goal scored in each division match.
Round robin play began on Thursday with a tough game against Team Manitoba.
The game was scoreless at the half and despite some standout play, and an injury to defenceman Joey Timmons on a goal saving defensive play, the team suffered their first and only loss at 1-0.
– FRIDAY (July 11)
Friday saw Team Nova Scotia soccer team play two matches.
The first game of the morning was against a tough Quebec team. Veteran Captain Terry Black scored the first of two goals that helped inspire the team to a 2-0 win over Quebec.
Robyn Munro was the second scorer and had a fabulous game with an integral contribution at forward.
Joey Timmons rallied back from the previous day's shoulder injury to help out on defence.
Jason "The Gazelle" Rhindress, the only two-time National Games athlete on the team, came alive with a number of shots on goal and a great display of athleticism at both forward and defence.
Brandon Ott was unbeatable as goaltender securing the shutout victory.
The win rallied the team and they went on to triumph over Team Alberta in the afternoon match with another shutout for Ott and a 2-0 victory.
Jonathan Dauphinee was a standout at forward, not letting his small size stop him.
Dauphinee was a force to be reckoned with.
Allison Borden had a beautiful shot on goal but was robbed by the very agile Alberta goalie.
Robyn Munro continued to have a fantastic tournament until a collision with the Alberta goalie and a kneecap dislocation forced her from the game.
Despite the departure of Munro the team was able to regain their focus and hold on to the two-goal lead and victory.
– SATURDAY (July 12)
Saturday morning’s matchup saw Team Nova Scotia take on Team Ontario-North Bay in what would be their most important game. The game would decide the silver medalist.
The Ontario team came on strong but the Amherst Coyotes were undaunted.
With Robyn Munro watching from the bench, Jesse Williams upped his game at forward to help fill her shoes.
The play of the game and the tournament came in the first half with a beautiful goal worthy of the World Cup highlight reel. Veteran forward and back-up goalie, Rebecca LeBlanc carried the ball up the field, deked around four Ontario players and then made a beautiful cross pass to Jonathan Dauphinee who scored what would be the game winning goal.
The crowd of Nova Scotia parents, friends and fellow athletes was electrified.
The team went on to score a second goal and take a 2-0 lead.
A late push by the Ontario team saw Brandon Ott make a huge toe save to ensure the victory and the third shutout for Ott who finished the tournament play with only one goal against.
LeBlanc went on to be named player of the game by the Team Nova Scotia coaches.
The Amherst soccer team was the first team from Amherst to be named to Team Nova Scotia, having only been represented by individual athletes at Nationals in the past, and thus the first National Team medalists from our region.
Coaches Stu Colson, Mike Greek and Lisa Hines agree the team showed amazing class and grace under the immense pressure of the National stage.
The Town of Amherst and the entire Province of NS should be proud of their accomplishments and the admiral representation of this team at Nationals.
The Soccer team's silver medal was one of 68 medals brought home by Team NS athletes at these games.