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Fraser Valley FC turns season around, off to nationals
When the season began with a pair of losses for Fraser Valley FC's U14 girls team, things did not look promising.
"We did have our ups and downs and we weren't playing our greatest soccer in the beginning," said Fraser Valley coach Niko Marcina.
The team would turn things around with just one loss in their final 10 regular season games (7-1-2) to place third in the B.C. Soccer Premier League.
But Marcina admits it wasn't until about the six or seven-game mark of the season that his troops really showed what they were capable of.
"The season was off to a shaky start, and we did have our ups and downs and weren't playing our greatest soccer in the beginning," he said.
"(But then) they really started to connect and we started playing as a team, quality possession-style soccer, and from there it was a turning point.
"We wouldn't just be beating teams, we would be out-possessing and out-playing teams."
Marcina said both he and assistant coach Craig MacEwen instilled two things in the players: work ethic and hard work always pay off; and it is not about the individual, but all about team effort.
"I think the combination of those two, they persevered and at the end of the day, they came out with a phenomenal result," Marcina said.
The phenomenal result the coach was referring to was a 3-2 victory over top-ranked Mountain United FC in the finals of the Provincial Premier Cup.
The game was played at McLeod Athletic Park with the U13, U14, U16 and U18 girls finals on June 29. The day before saw the boys finals in those same age groups, also at McLeod Athletic Park.
This was the third time Fraser Valley FC — which is made up of players from Langley FC, Aldergrove Youth Soccer, Abbotsford's Magnuson Ford Mariners FC and Chilliwack FC — had played Mountain United, with the Valley team managing a loss and a draw in the first two contests.
The championship final was a back and forth affair with quality chances for both sides, Marcina said.
Mountain was ahead 1-0 at the half before Nikki Gregory netted the equalizer 15 minutes into the second half.
With 10 minutes to play, Mountain forged ahead once again, but Fraser Valley drew a penalty kick with five minutes remaining and Sabrina Anderson tied the score at two. And then during injury time, Lauren Sylvan was able to break in behind the Mountain defence and struck for what turned out to be the winning goal in the 3-2 victory.
"The Mountain girls have been together for numerous years, and hands down, they are a very, very good team, fantastic team, they play very good soccer, so being able to come out with a victory — especially when it is something as big as a Provincial Cup — is a tremendous feat," Marcina said.
Nearly half of the 16-player team is made up of girls from Langley FC and with this being Marcina's first year with the squad, he credited MacEwen in helping him out.
"He played a huge part in bringing the team together and was a key component," Marcina said.
The win also qualifies Fraser Valley for the national championships this October in Prince Edward Island.
The team is made up of Hannah Miller, Leah Evans, Katie MacEwen, Sabrina Anderson, Mackenzie Silbernagel, Amy De Boer, Lauren Jodrey, Jasmine Mangat, Vanita Bhullar, Jessica Hunt, Lauren Sylvan, Bonnie Whitford, Nikki Gregory, Grace Stanley, Katie Ward and Danika Unger.
Fraser Valley FC lost 2-0 to Coquitlam Metro Ford in the U13 final