BURNABY — Back in 2017, Jacob Sol was the underclassman whose heroics helped his older teammates put a gold-medal finish on their schoolboy soccer careers.
Exactly a year ago, as a Grade 11 talent on a team filled with seniors, his brace, which included the game winner, lifted the Langley Fundamental Titans to a 3-1 win over Victoria’s St. Michaels University School Blue Jags in the B.C. senior boys high school AA championship final at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.
On Wednesday, as the Titans returned to the same field and the same B.C. championship final match, this time against PoCo’s Archbishop Carney Stars, Sol was once again front and centre.
Yet perhaps more important to him than being the guy who scored the goal that held to be the B.C. title game-winner for a second straight season, was the fact that once again, the team’s numerous Grade 11 players rose up and not only insured a 2-0 victory over the Stars, but insured the theory that Titans’ boys soccer is no flash in the pan.
Instead, it’s renewable fortunes could be viewed through players like Sol’s Grade 11 brother Alex who won the tourney’s coveted Golden Boot with six goals over the three days of competition.
Instead, it’s very presence in Wednesday’s final could be directly traced to the save made by Grade 11 and eventual tournament MVP Jackson Hleucka in the fifth-and-final round of the heart-stopping 5-4 shoot-out tie-breaker staged Friday between themselves and Campbell River’s Carihi Tyees to determine which team would advance from its pool to the semifinals.
“It feels awesome to win for a second year in a row, especially in my senior year,” said Jacob Sol. “We seniors had some big boots to fill from last year’s final, and yeah, we felt the weight of leadership. But a lot of it was the Grade 11s on this team stepping up and filling roles. I am so proud of them.”
Youth, in fact, meant the Titans had to learn not to be overwhelmed by the adversity they faced on the way to the title, like losing on penalty kicks to Maple Ridge’s Thomas Haney Thunder in the Fraser Valley semifinals, thus missing out on a chance to enter the B.C. draw as Valley champs, a feat they had managed last season.
“We’re pretty young, younger than last year,” admitted head coach Tamera Shearon. “But this team is a really connected group of kids who have created a great atmosphere.”
Grade 11 Malachi Emerson’s 15th-minute free kick was volleyed home by Jacob Sol for a 1-0 lead.
Then, in the 30th minute, senior Oliver Kelly added what would prove to be the insurance goal.
On the other side, Archbishop Carney head coach Mate Zvicer wasn’t pretending like the loss didn’t hurt, but he couldn’t hide the pride he carried for a Stars team which was surely among the youngest in all of B.C. high school soccer, one which on Wednesday started seven Grade 10s, including talented striker Dawson Brown.
“I don’t think a lot of people had a lot of hope in these guys with a roster full of Grade 10s, and with the rough go we had in the Valleys,” said Zvicer whose team edged North Delta’s Sands Scorpions 1-0 in the Fraser Valley consolation semi-final just to qualify for B.C.’s and earn a spot in the third-fourth place game, one in which they were thrashed 4-1 by the Titans.
“There were a lot of chips fall against us,” continued Zvicer, “but the loss is a little easier to take knowing how incredible these kids are.”
Last season, Langley Fundamental eat Archbishop Carney 1-0 in the B.C. championship semifinals.
Langley Secondary’s Saints, the Fraser Valley champs, defeated Sa-Hali of Kamloops 2-0 to take home bronze. Carihi of Campbell River finished a decisive fifth after the Yees topped Vancouver Notre Dame Jugglers 7-0. North Shore champion Windsor Dukes defeated Maple Ridge’s Thomas Haney Thunder 2-1 to finish seventh.
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