BURNABY — B.C.’s most decorated boys high school soccer program of the century has taken its share of tough losses over the years and bounced back nicely.
Four B.C. AAA championship titles over the past eight years heading into this past weekend’s provincial tournament at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex was a direct reflection of that.
Yet entering the 2017 edition fresh off a 3-0 loss in the Fraser Valley championship final didn’t exactly suggest that Coquitlam’s Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils were in there midst of top form.
By early afternoon Saturday, however, the kids from Como Lake were once again riding a championship wave.
Not only did the Blue Devils top defending B.C. champion Reynolds of Victoria 3-1 in Friday’s semifinals, they got a decisive second-half penalty kick goal from tournament MVP Quinn Desaulniers in final to win 2-1 over Surrey’s Panorama Ridge Thunder, the same team which had blanked them in the Valley final.
“That was a nice little bit of redemption for the boys,” said Best’s David Jones, who co-coaches the team with Danny Pietramala and who has led the Blue Devils to three B.C. titles since 2012.
Desaulniers enjoyed a dream season with Charles Best, the senior and Coquitlam Metro Ford standout capping his high school career by sweeping the post-tournament honours sheet.
Desaulniers also opened the game’s scoring in the final minute of the first half, putting Best up 1-0 at the break, when off a counter attack, he slotted a low, hard shot 10 yards off the touch line coming in from his link position.
The two goals not only secured his MVP status, but gave him 10 goals on the tourney, and the right to hoist the Golden Boot award, presented annually to the 16-team event’s most prodigious goal scorer.
“Quinn is such a nice kid, so humble, no ego and not a really vocal kid,” said Jones of his 6-foot-1 senior who was also chosen to the Commisioner’s XI all-star team.
“He has a huge soccer IQ,” Jones continued. “He really cleaned up.”
His penalty kick winner came after Panorama Ridge’s Sahil Dhindsa scored off a header about 10 minutes into the second half to draw the Surrey squad even.
“This was a tough, tough loss,” admitted Panorama Ridge’s Derek Duke who co-coaches the both the boys and girls teams at the school with Darrell Fast. Last spring the pair helped lead the Thunder to the B.C. girls AAA title, a dramatic penalty-kicks win over crosstown rival Fleetwood Park.
Panorama last won the boys title in 2014, and after a 3-0 victory over upstart Surrey foe L.A. Matheson in the other Friday semifinal, were on track to potentially win a second boys title in four years.
Certainly that is how the Thunder looked when they opened Saturday’s final.
If not for the grace of a goalpost, and a superb save by Best keeper Dylan Sadgrove in the early stages, the Thunder would have been down 2-0 before they knew what hit them.
“They came out flying,” Jones admitted of Panorama Ridge.
Blue Devils’ Grade 11 Brendan Morden made a strong run through the 18-yard box and was taken down, setting the stage for Desaulniers’ winning PK tally.
Best then put five in the back and four in midfield, hunkered down behind their wall and hung on for the victory, the school’s fifth overall since 2009.
Reynolds beat L.A. Matheson 2-0 in the third-fourth game.
Fleetwood Park beat Oak Bay 3-2 on penalty kicks to finish fifth. The top five finishers this season have taken turns winning seven of the last nine B.C. AAA titles.
L.A. Matheson won the Fair Play award and Karndeep Sahota of Fleetwood Park was picked Top Keeper.
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