BURNABY — The defending champs have advanced all the way to the semifinals of the B.C. senior boys Coastal AA soccer championships.
Yet after what basically amounts to a week shy of two years away, Day 1 of the 2021 tournament seemed to invite even more of the unknown.
“Pool play is never easy, whether it’s 12 or 16 teams” said Notre Dame veteran head coach Dennis Pavan of the trimmer format in place this season. “And that first game really gets built up.
“It’s like we all come out with that little bit of nervousness and excitement.. .all of the unknowns, and I’ve got kids on this team from Grade 9 to Grade 12, so some of them knew about this experience, and some didn’t.”
This season, the tournament’s 12 teams were grouped into four pools of three, and on Monday, everybody played everyone in their pool once. Lose one game and you’re almost surely out, as was the case Monday. It’s one of the most brutally-demanding days within the entire B.C. high school sports championships canon.
In the end, however, while the school’s senior football Jugglers prepare for their own B.C. Subway Bowl AAA Coastal semifinal Saturday at B.C. Place Stadium, Notre Dame’s soccer team will do the same on its stage, facing Vancouver Island’s Brentwood College Tuesday in one of two semifinals, each slated for 11:45 a.m. at the host Burnaby Lake Sports Complex site.
Playing out of Pool B, Notre Dame got goals from Sebastian Cirotto and Oliver Deveau, and a combined shutout from Mattius Ferraro and Elias Morton as part of a 2-0 win over the Langley Christian Lightning in its morning opener.
Lambrick Park beat the Lightning 6-0 in its opener, so the Notre Dame-Lambrick Park match which capped pool play Monday wound up as something of a quarterfinal match.
“They came out hard, they play a very-high pressure system,” said Pavan of Victoria’s Lions, whose 3-2-1-4 schematic required poise and patience to attack. “So we told the boys that if you can withstand that first wave of pressure and get the ball to the middle of the park, then you’ll find some openings to attack their defence.”
Yet after a 0-0 first half, Pavan feels the Lions changed their strategy.
Lambrick Park came into the game with a plus-four goal differential, and thus a draw would be enough for them to get to the semifinals.
Nonetheless, the Jugglers eventually cracked the code.
A corner by Ryan Torresan was converted by Antony Pettenon for a 1-0 lead.
Jaden Nahkla added the insurance marker to make the 2-0 final complete.
Brentwood College played its games consecutively to open the event, beating North Delta’s Sands Scorpions 3-0 in its opener, then edging West Vancouver’s Mulgrave Titans 1-0.
On the other side of the draw, Pool C winner Carihi Tyees of Campbell River will face Maple Ridge’s Westview Wildcats, the winners of Pool D.
After playing North Vancouver’s St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints to a 2-2 draw in the morning session, STA had come back to beat North Delta’s Burnsview Griffins 4-0.
That meant that Carihi went into its pool play-ending match against Burnsview needing to win by at least five goals to advance. Somehow they won 6-0, and punched their ticket.
The Tyees will play the Wildcats who went a tidy 2-0 to win Pool D.
Westview beat Vancouver’s Magee Lions 5-2, then finished with a 3-1 win over Langley Fundamental.
THANK YOU! — Varsity Letters extends a huge round of thanks to Wilson Wong, not only for providing his usual excellent photography from today’s opening round, but also for taking the time to provide us with all of the scores from today’s games. This report had to be fashioned remotely and thus without his help, we could not have provided this report.
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