TSAWWASSEN — B.C.’s No. 1-ranked senior boys soccer team lives by its first team rule so well, that it has been allowed to do what just comes naturally.
Manmeet Jhutty and Jeevan Dhaliwal scored first-half goals, while Armaan Bhagwani scored a pair in the second half to carry Surrey’s top-rated Panorama Ridge Thunder to a convincing 4-0 win over the No. 9-ranked and host South Delta Sun Devils in a South Fraser Conference south zone clash Tuesday at rainy Winskill Park.
“It’s always defence first in our end, keep it simple, keep it clean,” said Thunder co-head coach Darryl Vanderark, whose team upped its undefeated league record to 5-0-1 and increased its combined goals for-and-against to 23-to-1. “In the final third, be as creative as you like. When you have as much skill as our players do, the goals will come. They know they will get their chances.”
That is pretty much how the script in Tuesday’s Top 10 clash unfolded.
The Sun Devils had gotten some inspired early play, yet their energy waned after Jhutty headed home a corner.
“Today’s game could have gone either way,” added Vanderark. “If South Delta scores the first one, it goes differently.”
Like the Sun Devils, under co-coaches Stephen Burns and Brent Sweeney, the Thunder have built a time-honoured high school program.
And if this is going to be their season, it has surely been no fluke that the Thunder have arrived at a position where they are primed and ready to win it all.
“The guys that are in Grade 12 now, we started with them in Grade 8,” added Vanderark of a Panorama Ridge team which last season, with a largely Grade 10-11 roster, lost 2-0 in the B.C. Triple A championship final match to the Vancouver College Fighting Irish.
“So when you keep a lot of the same guys together for five years, they know how to play together,” he continued. “But the big thing is the fact that since the start of last season, they have all bought into who we are, and what our team mentality is. They might play different roles than they do on their club teams but they’ve all bought in to what they are doing on their high school team, too.”
In the midfield, Grade 11s Jhutty and Cevak Lehal have led the way, while along the defence, Grade 11 Arjun Cheema, senior Saeed Khan and Grade 10 Karmveer Rai have been among the standouts holding down the fort.
The Thunder ‘s lone conceded goals came as part of a 6-1 win on Oct. 10 against the Delta Pacers.
After facing Semiahmoo on Thursday at Newtwon Athletic Park, Panorama Ridge wraps up its regular season a week from Thursday at Tamanawis.
After that, Vanderark knows nothing is guaranteed.
“It takes a lot of luck just to get out of Surrey and get to the provincials,” he said.
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