Dave Martin, head coach of the Kamloops Blaze under-18 girls soccer team, remains optimistic after his squad lost its opening game at the provincial A Cup soccer finals.
Eight other Kamloops head coaches are probably feeling the same way.
Blaze teams struggled on the opening day of the 40-team provincial championships, which continue today, Saturday and Sunday on McArthur Island. Kamloops has teams in nine of the 10 divisions, but none of those teams won its opening game Thursday.
Martin's girls fell 5-1 to the Richmond Red Hot Selects, who thoroughly dominated for long stretches. But with two games remaining in the four-team round-robin, Martin is confident his girls will pick up the pieces.
"This is a process," he said. "If we think that we're out of the tournament at this point, then we are going to be out of it.
"The goal is to get to the gold-medal game, and just because we lost to this team doesn't mean we don't have the ability to still get there."
The Blaze U18 girls will take on Surrey FC Pegasus today, 6:30 p.m., before finishing the round-robin against the Burnaby Girls Strikers on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Surrey defeated Burnaby 2-1 on Thursday.
The U18 girls final is scheduled for Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
The rest of the Kamloops teams' Thursday results looked similar to the U18 girls.
The Blaze U13 girls lost 4-2 to the SurDel Sting, while the U13 boys fell 7-0 to Richmond United. Kamloops' U14 teams were closer, but still lost, with the girls losing 1-0 to Surrey's CCB Elite and the boys falling 2-0 to the Port Moody AC Selects.
The Blaze's U15 girls were 2-1 losers to Royal City New Westminster Barcelona, while the U15 boys dropped an 8-1 decision to Richmond United. Kamloops' U16 boys lost 4-1 to Richmond United, while the U18 boys were beaten 3-1 by Comox's Upper Vancouver Island United.
A lot of these teams struggled against tough competition from the Coast, and Martin's U18 girls needed some time to get accustomed to the strong play of the Red Hot Selects.
"This Richmond team is the Coastal champion, and that's the calibre they play at," Martin said. "It took us a while to get to their calibre."
Summer Clarke was fantastic for Richmond, scoring four goals. Amrit Berar also scored in the victory.
Mei-Lin Cheung scored for Kamloops, whose goal came early in the second half, moments after Clarke scored her third - and nicest - goal on a lovely cross from Brenda Murillo.
Martin felt the Blaze got better throughout the game, and should be ready for Burnaby and Surrey in the coming days.
"Just looking at some scores from the Coastal season, and this Richmond team kind of had the same results against our upcoming opponents," he said. "I think we have the tools, and it just has to come together.
"There has to be the urgency on the girls' end to make it happen right away, rather than reacting and letting it happen to us."