Sports

Soccer's Provincial A Cup goes to Club Inter

Brett Wiens headed the ball over the goal keeper off a wonderful corner kick, but the crossbar denied the goal for the Aldergrove Premier men. - Art Bandenieks photo
Brett Wiens headed the ball over the goal keeper off a wonderful corner kick, but the crossbar denied the goal for the Aldergrove Premier men.
— image credit: Art Bandenieks photo

A 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Vancouver Mainland Soccer League's Club Inter has dashed the Aldergrove Premier men's hopes of becoming the first ever Fraser Valley Soccer League team to win a provincial championship.

It was the first time that a Fraser Valley Soccer League team played for the highest honour the province has to offer. Aldergrove United, on the back of a title-winning season in the FVSL, hoped to be the first Fraser Valley team to lift Men’s BC Provincial Cup in the trophy’s 95 year history.

Club Inter took the Provincial A Cup with a 2-0 win over Aldergrove United Premier men at Burnaby Lake Park on Sunday, May 14.

However, this season, Aldergrove's semi-final win over Westside on May 6 carries more weight because a win qualifies the team for the Nationals, a tournament that the FVSL is hosting in October. B.C. is getting two berths, so a finals appearance makes Aldergrove the FVSL’s first ever entrant at a National Championship.

The Aldergrove boys were awarded a favourable draw by the soccer gods this year. As the first name out of the hat they had home field advantage throughout the tournament and hosted a pair of teams that had to travel from Vancouver Island.

The Vancouver Island Soccer League, like the VMSL, has a strong pedigree in this tournament, but this season they were a step off the pace across the board. Aldergrove easily dispatched their Island visitors, Bays United and Vic West, with a pair of identical 4-1 score lines.

Their first taste of the juggernaut Vancouver Metro Soccer League looked set to be league champions Coquitlam Metro Ford. CMF had lost agonizingly in last season’s final but had bounced back to win their second consecutive VMSL title and this season it wasn’t even close, as they were clearly the class of the league. One team that had been a thorn in their side, however, was Westside FC and the Westsiders refused to go away, eventually upsetting their VMSL counterparts in a shootout.

So it was an undermanned and depleted Westside team that journeyed out to Aldergrove Athletic Park to face the would be history-makers rather than the giants Metro Ford. Westside had been playing must win games for nearly two months, needing an impressive undefeated run and a playoff game just to qualify for the Provincial Cup. They reached the end of their rope in the valley and ran out of steam when confronted by a gutsy, heart and soul performance from Aldergrove.

Brett Wiens, who was a constant menace to the Westside defence throughout the match, got the ball out right, cutting into the box and past three defenders before burying one into the far corner to give Aldergrove the 1-0 lead.

Aldergrove came within inches of doubling their lead in the 23rd minute, when Ben Vandergoes sent a free kick deep into the Westside box and it crashed off the crossbar and away.

It was all Aldergrove in this spell and they came close to adding to their tally, first with a goalmouth scramble that Westside keeper Lukas Strauts eventually smothered, and then Strauts came up with a big diving save to turn away a curling free kick from Connor Hildebrandt in the 29th minute.

Aldergrove kept pressing, with Wiens flashing a shot wide just before half time, but with no further scoring, and despite their pressure, the home side only had a one goal lead to show for it at the break.

The action kept up apace at the start of the second half with both teams exchanging chances. Aldergrove still looked the more dangerous side, but the home crowd was stunned when Westside tied it up at 1-1 in the 57th minute.

It was a great passing counter stemming from breaking up an Aldergrove attack on the edge of the Westside box and ended with Zach Karmel rising unchallenged to head home a pinpoint cross.

Aldergrove nearly restored their lead from the restart but Strauts denied Josh Brown with a leg save.

The home side appeared to be in the ascendency and were pressing hard, but Westside came close to taking the lead in the 71st minute, again on a quick counter from an Aldergrove attack. This time it ended with Brian Im firing narrowly past the left post, but the threat the VMSLers posed was clear, no matter how much pressure Aldergrove were enjoying.

Aldergrove responded immediately and Wiens nearly poked one past Strauts from close in after good work by Gavin Deacon in the box, and the enjoyable battle between the keeper and the big striker continued moments later when Strauts saved Wiens low cross at the feet of two attackers.

Strauts came up big again to deny Hildebrandt with a good low save before the game’s decisive moment came in the 84th minute.

Westside’s Alejandro Caselblanco gave away a free kick around 35 yards from goal on a tackle that saw him pick up a second yellow card, reducing the visitor’s to ten men with extra time seemingly looming. And as hard as that dismissal was set to make the rest of the game for Westside, they were immediately punished for it when Aldergrove retook the lead from the subsequent free kick.

As the ball was played in, the Westside defence blocked two shots, but the ball eventually broke to Ko Ota eight yards out and he fired home to send Aldergrove Athletic Park into raptures.

Westside tried to get numbers forward as they looked for the equaliser, but it was leaving them short at the back and Aldergrove tried to capitalise to kill the tie off, with Strauts doing enough to put off Wiens on a quick breakaway.

Deep into stoppage time, Aldergrove countered again and Hildebrandt played a one-two with Wiens before showing great composure in the box and curling home the killer third, securing a famous 3-1 victory for the FVSL side in what was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining encounter.

Westside gamely hung in while Aldergrove battered them time and again, even putting together a sumptuous passing move that led to a top class equalizing goal. When a late red card was produced, dropping the VMSLers to 10 men, there was just nothing left in the tank. Aldergrove were rewarded for their quality performance with a berth in the final.

-with thanks to aftn.ca website.

ART BANDENIEKS

After suffering a bitter defeat in the Provincial Final game, Aldergrove's Premier players — still feeling the pain of the final whistle — came back on the field to thank the many supporters that showed up for Sunday's game at Burnaby Lake Park.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...