NORTH VANCOUVER — Take a close look at the results from the last decade of the gold medal game at the B.C. senior girls AAA high school soccer championships and you’ll discover why, from a spectator point of view, it has perhaps become the jewel of the spring sport season.
From 2008-17, a total of 10 years, nine different schools have played in the final and seven have won at least one championship title.
And what that represents is the perfect mix of traditional powers and top-end parity.
There is no such thing as predictability, yet enough dedicated programs put themselves in the running on an annual basis that the word ‘rivalry’ achieves its intended meaning.
Ask the head coaches of one of those programs about the state of the game as it pertains to the current season, and Darren Rath of North Vancouver’s Argyle Pipers points out that the competition just keeps getting better.
“Right now, if you’re in the top eight at provincials, on any given day, any team can win that given game,” Rath said last week as his Pipers ascended to the No. 1 spot in the B.C. high school AAA Top 10 rankings. “They would be such competitive games because the top eight are very comparable right now.”
Just where Argyle fits in that puzzle still is not known.
Currently 5-0-0 in North Shore conference league play with one more game remaining, the Pipers will play the Burnaby/New Westminster regular season champs on May 14 for a direct berth to the provincial tournament.
Yet as dominant as Argyle has been since coming off a penalty-kicks loss to former No. 1 Sardis in the championship final of the UBC Invitational in early April, Rath knows his charges can count on nothing until final whistles have sounded and the results have been officially booked.
Last season, despite winning the North Shore with a 6-0-0 record and outscoring its foes 17-1 over the campaign, the Pipers dropped a 2-1 decision in the zone championship final to its crosstown rivals, the Handsworth Royals.
Unlike other seasons, however, there was no second berth out of the zone to the provincials, due to a lower-than-usual number of registered Burnaby AAA programs.
Thus Handsworth advanced to the B.C.’s, as did Burnaby North as the B.C. tournament’s host school.
The two-time B.C. champs (2011, 13) and three-time championship game finalists over that aforementioned 10-year span, were on the outside looking in for the first time since 2009.
“I think the talent is there for us this year,” says Rath of his team. “We’ve always been a strong and competitive program.”
That 2017 team was actually more seasoned than the current edition, yet there is no shortage of talent and chemistry in the current squad.
Losing Lilia Miki, the standout holding midfielder who was injured for the season with her club team, has been a blow to the team.
Yet a number of other talents like Mya Fraser, Chloe Walton, Nicole Hustwait, Teagan Mackay and Lauren Parr have insured quality performances up and down the park.
And as the second season beckons, it’s interesting to look back on what has been a very important decade in B.C. girls high school soccer.
Only three of the seven schools who have won B.C. titles over the last decade have done so twice.
Argyle is one of them, having won in 2011 and 2013. That streak of two titles in three seasons, however, can be directly tied to the heartbreak of losing to Victoria’s Claremont Spartans in the 2010 title final.
Interestingly enough, in both of the Pipers’ championship seasons, they produced the B.C. tournament’s top scorer, or so-called Golden Boot winner.
In 2011, it was Jessie DeBoer, and in 2013, it was current Simon Fraser Clan basketball star Sophie Swant, the latter winning the scoring title as a 10th grader.
The other schools to win two titles over the past 10 years?
Surrey programs Panorama Ridge (2012, 2017) and Fleetwood Park (2014, 2016).
The other four winners? South Delta (2008), Handsworth (2009), Claremont (2010), Dr. Charles Best (2015).
Mt. Boucherie and Oak Bay have played in a total of three finals over that same stretch and not won.
The Pipers and the rest of the province’s top teams know that nothing is achieved yet.
Getting to the Big Dance, however, means that just about anything can happen.
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