BURNABY — The beauty of group play at the 16-team B.C. senior boys AAA high school Coastal soccer championships is that Thursday parity invites a Friday filled with uncertainty.
And nowhere was that better exemplified on opening day at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex than in Pool A, one of the tournament’s four four-team groups, each of which will yield just one winner to produce a Final Four semifinal round kicking off at 12:45 p.m. Friday.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before,” stated Larry Moro, the longtime Centennial Secondary coach whose Coquitlam-based Centaurs are locked in a four-way tie with West Van’s Sentinel Spartans, Surrey’s defending B.C. champion Panorama Ridge Thunder, and Port Moody’s Heritage Woods Kodiaks, each with 1-1-0 records.
“It’s interesting going into our last games on Friday morning, because any of these four teams can finish first and any one of us can also can finish last.”
Panorama Ridge will play Sentinel, and Centennial will clash with its Fraser North rivals Heritage Woods, in a pair of 11 a.m. games which wil surely be using a tiebreaking formula from which to determine a pool winner and subsequent semifinalist.
For the record, Heritage Woods beat Panorama Ridge 2-1, Centennial beat Sentinel 2-0, Panorama Ridge beat Centennial 1-0, Sentinel beat Heritage Woods 1-0.
Pool B wasn’t quite as tight.
Coquitlam’s Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils have some real history at the provincials and they lived up to that lineage on Thursday by beating Van Tech 2-0, and later Surrey’s Enver Creek 3-1.
Best will face Victoria’s Reynolds Roadrunners in its 11 a.m. pool-capper Friday.
Reynolds drew 2-2 with Enver Creek and then beat Van Tech 5-1 to finish 1-0-1, meaning the winner of Friday’s game between the Blue Devils and Coyotes will oppose the Pool A winner in a 2:30 p.m. semifinal.
On the other side of the draw:
In Pool C, Port Coquitlam’s Riverside Rapids, looking like the team to beat at this tournament, continued to play the same dominating brand of soccer it displayed coming out of conference play.
The Rapids beat Vancouver’s Kitsilano Blue Demons 4-0 and then Surrey’s Fleetwood Park Dragons 4-1 to take a stranglehold in group play at 2-0 heading into Friday.
The Dragons and Blue Demons each sit at 1-1, while the Burnaby Central Wildcats are winless at 0-2.
With all that said, Riverside looks to be on to the semifinals with either a win or draw against Burnaby Central in its 9 a.m. contest. The Rapids’ plus-seven goal-differential as well, looks very strong.
Pool D was also among the stranger groupings we’ve seen in recent years, in that North Vancouver’s Argyle Pipers extracted the only victory in the day’s four games, the other three all being draws, including a pair which wound up scoreless.
The Pipers topped Nanaimo District’s Islanders 4-2 in a late-afternoon clash, and along with its 0-0 draw against Surrey’s Princess Margaret Lions, sit at 1-0-1.
Chilliwack’s Sardis Falcons drew 2-2 with the Islanders and 0-0 with the Lions, so that means that they and Lions are tied for second at 0-0-2. Nanaimo District sits last at 0-1-1.
Argyle looks to be on to the semifinals with a win over Sardis at 9 a.m., but many other possible scenarios remain in play.
The Pool C and Pool D winners square off in a 12:45 p.m. semifinal ahead of Saturday’s 11:45 a.m. championship.
And getting back to those Centaurs… their Friday clash with Heritage Woods is lining up an an absolute classic.
Early in the season, the Kodiaks took Centennial apart to the tune of 6-2, yet in a sudden-elimination game at its zone championships, Centennial rallied to beat Heritage Woods 3-2 and claim the zone’s third-and-final berth to what was expected to be the standard provincial tournament.
Yet when Northern/Interior teams were forced out of the proceedings on the south coast due to the BCSS ruling brought on by flooding, the Kodiaks were given a reprieve and brought back into the fold.
“We know each other well and it’s going to be a very interesting game,” said Moro.
Centennial opened strong Thursday against Sentinel.
In the sixth minute, Roman Bandiera headed home a Nathan Hagiwara corner kick.
And then in the 14th minute, Diego Garcia headed in a free kick from Hagiwara to round out the game’s scoring.
Panorama Ridge got a goal in the 63rd minute later in the day to beat the Centaurs.
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