Mission’s Special Olympics soccer squad excelled on the national stage, winning gold at the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Vancouver last week.
“It was huge, because of the pressure to succeed when you’re the home team,” enthused team member Bryce Schaufelberger, who scored twice in the title game. “It felt really awesome . . . we’re extremely excited.”
The Mission side dominated from the outset at nationals – they went 3-0 during round-robin tiering games, which put them into Division A for the playoffs. Then they posted a 2-0-1 record in Division A play, beating Saskatchewan 4-0 and Timmins, Ont. 6-0, along with a 1-1 tie vs. Newfoundland and Labrador.
That set up a rematch vs. Newfoundland and Labrador in the gold medal game, and they prevailed by a 2-0 score.
“We basically went in and told the guys to go out, have fun and play like you can, and everything fell into place,” said Stuart Coates, a member of the coaching staff. “The guys did what they needed to do, and we seemed to shut Newfoundland down.”
The team featured eight Mission athletes – Schaufelberger, Amanda Peebles, Glen Griner, Justin King, Liam Barry, Mitchell Howell, Tom Hanna and Tony Carter – along with Jeremy Cheverie of Victoria and Mitchell Hallman from Surrey.
The team is now hoping to be selected to represent Canada at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, and having surrendered just one goal against at nationals, Coates believes they’ve got a good shot.