BURNABY —Take one step into tournament headquarters here at the 2017 B.C. girls high school soccer championships, and one of the first things you’re handed is the tie-breaking procedure to determine champions in each of the four pools.
On Wednesday, after the first round of play, it seemed especially fitting.
Six of the first eight games resulted in ties, and that parity is expected carry through to the final round of pool play on Friday.
Each of the four pool winners will then square off in semifinal games at 12:45 and 2:45 p.m. Friday.
“We just told the girls that they couldn’t drop any points today,” smiled Kitsilano Blue Demons head coach Dave Sabourin, after his Vancouver city champs and Lower Mainland silver medalists scored a 2-0 win over the Vancouver Island champion Reynolds Roadrunners of Victoria to sit atop Pool A. “We were fortunate to get one goal off a penalty kick today, and it allowed us to rest some players for tomorrow.”
The Blue Demons got both of their goals from Tess McRae, the first off a great run by Emma Jennings and the second off the penalty. McRae, playing on an injured heel, retired to the sidelines after scoring what proved to be the insurance goal.
Kitsilano opened the tournament with a 0-0 draw against Coquitlam’s Dr. Charles Best, the 2015 B.C. champs.
On Thursday, Kits meets Fleetwood Park, and with a win, would advance to the Final Four.
“We call this pool the of death,” said Sabourin because it’s got the Vancouver Island champs, the defending B.C. champs (Fleetwood Park) and the B.C. champions from the year before.”
“For us, we’ve gotten (to the semifinals) once in 20 attempts. We’re hoping to get a result tomorrow and get to the Final Four.”
Other Pool A scores: Reynolds 0 Fleetwood Park 0, Fleetwood Park 1 Dr. Charles Best 1.
Thursday’s games — 11 a.m. Kitsilano vs. Fleetwood Park, Reynolds vs. Dr. Charles Best
Everything sits squarely in the hands of the Handsworth Royals, last season’s provincial runners-up.
The North Vancouver school won both of its games Wednesday, opening with a 2-0 win over Ft. St. John’s North Peace Ookapiks.
They then took advantage of a rare breakdown by battle-tested South Delta, getting a goal from senior Rhylie Balkwill early in the second half to edge the Sun Devils 1-0.
“South Delta is a great team and their coaches (Brent Sweeney and Stephen Burns) have been at it forever,” said Royals’ head coach Brent Gibbard.”They were so strong defensively but one breakdown and we were able to jump on it.”
A huge save by Royals’ keeper Jenelle Hagerman didn’t hurt, as did an offside call on the Sun Devils which nullified what at first appeared to be a match-tying strike.
In a tournament where nothing is guaranteed, Handsworth’s berth to the semifinals is very simple: Beat Sardis in its 11 a.m. game Thursday.
“It was a close one today and we missed three or four good chances,” added Gibbard. “I said to the girls ‘I am 64 years old, my heart is not that strong,’ but whenever they need to, this teams seems to be able to elevate its level of play.
Other Pool B scores: Sardis 1 South Delta 1, Sardis 5 North Peace 2.
Thursday’s games — 11 a.m. Handsworth vs. Sardis, South Delta vs. North Peace
Kuljit Johal’s goal carried the day for Surrey’s Panorama Ridge Thunder, lifting the Fraser Valley champions to a 1-0 win over Campbell River’s Carihi Tyees and a 2-0 record after the opening day of play.
The Thunder, 2-1 winners in its opener over Vancouver’s Lord Byng Grey Ghosts, can book their ticket to the semifinals with a win Thursday over the Kelowna Owls (9 a.m.).
Other Pool C scores — Kelowna 1 Carihi 1, Kelowna 2 Lord Byng 0.
Thursday’s games — 9 a.m. Carihi vs. Lord Byng, Kelowna vs. Panorama Ridge
Kiara Buono and Raegan Mackenzie each fired home goals as Coquitlam’s Centennial Centaurs beat Richmond’s McMath Wildcats 2-0 to take a stranglehold on the pool standings with its only win of the day.
“There were tired legs but we battled through,” said Centennial head coach Larry Moro. “We created numerous chances and were able to bury a couple in the second half.”
Buono scored her goal off a breakaway, her shot hitting the keeper and finding its way home. Kara Plican’s rocket from 25 yards off the Wildcats’ crossbar was slotted home by Mackenzie.
Centennial opened the day with a 1-1 draw with Surrey’s Clayton Heights Night Riders and can earn a berth in the semifinals with a win Thursday (9 a.m.) over the host Burnaby North Vikings.
“Parity has arrived across the whole tournament,” said Moro. “Ties everywhere. You have to battle through the fatigue, so the team that has a bit of depth and mentally is able to fight through is going to be successful.”
Other Pool D scores — McMath 1 Burnaby North 1, Burnaby North 1 Clayton Heights 1
Thursday’s games — 9 a.m. Centennial vs. Burnaby North, McMath vs. Clayton Heights
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