April 4, 2019
From the Media Desk of the Fraser Valley Soccer League…
The 2018/19 season has reached its climax and we have determined the finalists for the FVSL two biggest prizes. After some great semi-finals, the Pakenham and Soccer City Premier League Cups will both be awarded on Cup Finals Day, Saturday April 6, at Cloverdale Athletic Park. We hope you will join us for a great day of football and, in case you missed them, we have all the details of how the four finalists reached the big day, as well as look ahead to the two finals, below.
Here’s a recap of all of this round’s action:
SOCCER CITY PREMIER LEAGUE CUP – SEMI FINALS
Surrey United Firefighters 0-2 Port Moody Gunners – Friday (Mar. 22) 8:30pm; Cloverdale Ath. Turf #2
Coming into this one on the brink of locking down a Provincial Cup berth, Surrey United were hoping to ride the momentum from a 4-0 mid-week thumping of Langley United to cup success against UPL Champions Port Moody. The Gunners, though, having been thwarted the previous week in their efforts to make it a clean sweep of all the FVSL silverware this season when they lost 3-2 to Coastal and were subsequently ousted from the Pakenham Cup, were still hungry to pull off at least a league and cup double. The teams had hotly contested their two previous meetings this season, which each side having pocketed a win on home turf. All signs point to another tense affair, however, perhaps fixture congestion had caught up to the teams because this one ended up being a rather blasé, straightforward affair. Vaughn Andrews and Tyler Leonard scored within just over ten minutes of this one to have things salted away for the visitors just past the half hour mark. Surrey’s Dave Adams was his usual robust self but was unable to inspire any sort of comeback from his Firefighter teammates, making it a rather light evening for Miguel Hof in the Port Moody goal. He was perfect when called upon though, and Junhyung Lee turned in a top performance for the Gunners, but, otherwise, there was not too much special about this encounter. Simply job done for Port Moody and a chance to play for their second trophy of the year on Cup Finals day, back at Cloverdale Athletic Park.
Abbotsford United 3-4 Coastal FC – Saturday (Mar. 23) 6pm; Mouat Turf #3
This was round one of two for these sides who were also slated to tango in the Pakenham Cup back out at Mouat the next weekend. Unlike its counterpart, this game was more than worthy of a semi final with the two sides going at each other hammer and tongs, producing a fantastic spectacle for the those watching on. Initially it seemed that perhaps the routineness that had infected the other semi-final, but when Isaac Kyei opened the scoring for Coastal after roughly 20 minutes, this one was off and running. It would be a Coastal siege for the next stretch until a defensive mistake created a frenzy in the Coastal penalty area before the ball eventually found Connor O’Neil who smashed a screamer from 25 yards out into the top corner to knot things at 1-1 heading into halftime. With all the fixtures being played during this stretch of the season, Abbotsford went reached into their depth to hand first team appearances to 15-years-olds Ajai Boparai and Mohit Bhatoa. Their youthful exuberance and fearlessness gave Abby a spark coming out of the break which saw United take control of the game, only for a Coastal counter attack to result in a penalty kick. Sean Northcotte made no mistake putting the visitors ahead from the spot on the hour mark, but, within minutes, United talisman Tyson Hunter was weaving his magic through almost the entire Coastal team before finding Colton O’Neill out wide who put a cross on a plater for Reece Branion to level things back up. The frantic pace was not done there though, as almost straight from the kickoff Coastal broke in and Taylor Richardson put Coastal back in the ascendency. Youth would eventually be served for Abbotsford though when 16-year-old Jehmrode Kahlon, who had been a standout performer all evening, got on the end of a perfectly measured through-ball from Sahib Phagura and slotted it away clinically to make it 3-3 with ten minutes to play. Just when you might have been starting to think we would be treated to an extra half hour of play in this one, who else but Coastal talisman Jake Starheim would pop up to score the winner with under five minutes remaining and power the visitors to the final where they will look to defend their SC Cup title. It was a phenomenal match and Steve Otten must also be noted for the immense contribution he provided to Coastal, despite not being on the scoresheet himself. As for Abby, manager Alan Alderson was understandably heartbroken about the way this one finished saying “Really tough to play as well as we did in the second half and end up on the wrong side of the result.” He and his side were forced to take solace with the performances of their young players and the knowledge that they will have another crack at Coastal in seven days’ time.
PAKENHAM CUP – SEMI FINALS
Chilliwack FC 0-2 Langley United A – Friday (Mar. 29) 8pm; Tzeachten Turf
In the end there was to be no last gasp Provincial Cup drama for Chilliwack. A win over Langley in this game would have given them the chance to play for a shock spot in the post season tournament. Langley came into this match in less than their best form and after these two sides played to a 1-1 draw in UPL action out in Langley the previous week, Chilliwack must have come into this one feeling that something special might just be on the cards. Alas, for them, there would be no fairy tale ending, though, for Langley, they will surely be hoping that this win can kick them back into top gear as they get set for both the Pakenham Cup Final and the Provincial Cup. Tyson Keam was the man on the hour in this one, netting a brace and turning in a top performance all night. Between Keam and they play of All-Star goalkeeper Andrew Hicks, it was fairly smooth sailing for United as they look to get back to the type of play that carried them all the way to the Provincial Cup final last season. Malcolm Stafford played well for Chilliwack in the loss, but it will have to be on to next season for the UPL eastern most team.
Abbotsford United 4-2 Coastal FC – Saturday (Mar. 30) 6pm; Mouat Turf #3
It was time for round two between these sides and, after the cracker of a display they put on a week earlier in the SC Cup, it was fair to wonder if they would have anything left in the tank to dazzle the fans in this one. Chilliwack’s loss the night before meant Abbotsford could rest assured knowing that they would be in the Provincial Cup regardless of how this match played out. That surely must have come as a relief after United were usurped in the big dance last season when Aldergrove won this very title. How would this knowledge effect Abby? Would they let up knowing they were safely into the tournament no matter what? Or would this give them the freedom to express themselves without worrying about still needing to qualify? On the other side, how would Coastal approach this match after having just trekked out to Abbotsford the previous week and locked up a place in SC Cup final? The answer was apparent from the start as the home side were in front from the off after Kree Byrne crossed to Atle Koellmel who nodded home to open the scoring inside three minutes. Coastal certainly were not about to roll over, but Abbotsford were not backing down, having seemingly found yet another gear after last week’s match. The game was another enthralling contest and it always felt like the next goal would be crucial. It would go to Abbotsford Koellmel found Brady Weir in a crowded penalty are and he somehow managed to negotiate enough space to fire home and double United’s lead. Things would go from bad to worse for Coastal and Koellmel was central in proceedings once more as he was taken down in the area allowing Tyson Hunter to cap off another trademark top performance with a goal from the penalty spot. Abbotsford still had time to put the icing on the cake when Colton O’Neill round the keeper to make it 4-0 with just a minute or two left on the clock. It seemed the perfect way to cap off the day, though the late insurance markers proved perhaps more important than originally anticipated after Taylor Richardson scored not once but twice in injury time to ruin the clean sheet for Abby keeper Mike Haladin, who had once again been in top form when called upon in this one. It was too little too late though for Coastal who will have to content themselves with playing for just a single FVSL trophy this season. Predictably, Abbotsford manager Alan Alderson was singing a slightly different tune to the previous week after this match. “For 90 minutes we were full throttle in our defending and were relentless in winning first and second balls” he said, adding “it was absolutely inspiring to watch how hard we worked. I would consider us a hard working team all the time, but am amazed that we were able to find an even higher gear and at our willingness to suffer in order to find a way to get ourselves back to a Pakenham Cup final.”
CUP FINALS DAY – SATURDAY APRIL 6, 2019 AT CLOVERDALE ATHLETIC PARK:
Langley United vs. Abbotsford United – 4:30PM Cloverdale Ath. Turf #1
The oldest soccer challenge trophy in British Columbia will have another name etched onto it on Saturday. The Pakenham Cup, sought after since 1909, will come down to a battle between Langley United A and Abbotsford United. Langley were frustrated bridesmaids last season, finishing as runners up in the UPL, the SC Cup and the Provincial Cup. This year they managed to earn the opportunity to put that right by winning one trophy they did not reach the final of last year. A win here would provide Langley a springboard for this season’s Provincial Cup campaign after what has been a rather pedestrian 2019 so far. Perhaps the snow and compressed schedule played a role, but, whatever the case, Langley have only one win in the UPL since the turn of the calendar. True, they can only play the teams in front of them, and they did dispatch three of the top teams from Division 1 on their way to this final, however, they would no doubt welcome a spark to kick them back into the top form which carried them to within seconds of the Provincial title. Standing in their way will be a young Abbotsford side who have been punching above their weight class since day one of the UPL season. A chance to lift this year’s Pakenham Cup after falling at the semi-final stage last season and then watching Aldergrove claim the title as well as what would have been Abbotsford’s spot in the Provincial Cup as a result. Manager Alan Alderson spoke of just how much reaching this stage means to his side. “We are really excited to be back in a cup final after losing in the Soccer City Cup semi-final and both semi-finals last year,” and knowing how hard it is to reach this point, added a personal note saying he was “especially excited to get a chance to play for the Pakenham Cup with this fantastic group of young men!” The league meetings between Abbotsford and Langley were all close affairs with each side picking up a 1-0 win and Langley also recording a 2-0 success. Expect another cagey one here as both teams look to finish their domestic season with some silverware. Good luck to all the teams involved and we hope to see everyone Saturday!
SOCCER CITY PREMIER LEAGUE CUP:
Port Moody Gunners vs. Coastal FC – 4:00PM Cloverdale Ath. Turf #2
The Soccer City Premier League Cup final has served up just about everything you could want in a fixture when there is a championship on the line. Last season Coastal FC won both the UPL and the SC Cup. This season they were supplanted atop the UPL throne by Port Moody Gunners and forced to settle for second place. The Gunners are now seeking to emulate the same league and cup double Coastal accomplished last year and make off with a second piece of silverware from the former champion’s trophy cabinet. The teams also happen to boast the top two scorers from the UPL. Coastal’s Jake Starheim tallied an impressive 17 goals this season plus another one, so far, in each of the cup competitions. However, he was eclipsed by Graeme Meers, the 2018/19 UPL Golden Boot winner who scored an incredible 25 goals in 21 UPL matches. He had two more in in each of the cups to total 29 goals across all competitions with one more match still to play. Coastal will also have find a way to deal with the dynamic midfield presence of UPL MVP Mark Talisuna who has struck and imposing figure all season. The two teams have split their four head to head meetings this season. In league play the home side was victorious on all three occasions, but Coastal managed to break that streak in the most recent clash between the two sides, winning 3-2 out in Port Moody in the Pakenham Cup quarter-finals. What will this fifth installment between the two teams have to offer for us? We shall find out Saturday. Based on their previous meetings and the players involved, there will hopefully be plenty of goals, but, regardless of whichever side does win the season series between these two fierce rivals, one thing for certain is that the winner will be claiming the SC Cup to go along with the bragging rights!
PRESIDENTS “GARRY KNIGHT” CUP
Fraser Valley Blue Devils vs. Langley United Dynamo – 1pm Cloverdale Ath. Turf #2
While the Presidents Cup itself is a big enough prize, for Fraser Valley Blue Devils, this match carries the added incentive of a potential Provincial Cup berth. Langley United Dynamo are already assured of their place in the Provinces post-season shindig, though, frustratingly, they were drawn into a first-round match up to be played this weekend as well. This will mean that Dynamo will have to perform somewhat of a delicate balancing act. Fortunately, they are the home side for their Provincial Cup match and get to schedule it at a time and place of their choosing. It would appear as though they have opted to prioritize winning the Presidents Trophy as they have elected to play their Provincial Cup match on Sunday in order to be fresh for this one on Saturday. We will see if that decision pays off, but the nice thing for Dynamo is that, while they may not be the most offensively gift team in the league, they had just the sixth most goals for across Division 2 league play, they do boast a balanced attack with the likes of Cam Whitters, Hassan Malik and Conrad Lichota. For Blue Devils, their driving force is leading goal scorer Jonathan Flores and he will be hoping to help the Fraser Valley boys reclaim the Presidents Cup after being champions in 2017. It was a frustrating season overall for Blue Devils, but the Abbotsford based side just seem to have a penchant for turning things on come cup season. Will they ride this momentum to another championship and carry on to Provincials? Or will their season end as they watch Dynamo lift the trophy? The lone league meeting between these teams was just a few weeks ago an it produced a thrilling 5-4 win for Dynamo. Hopefully there will be more of the same to enjoy on Saturday!
MASTERS “ROB BROWN” A CUP
Surrey United SC A vs. Port Moody Rangers – 1:30pm Cloverdale Ath. Turf #1
The top two teams from Masters Premier will clash in this one with Surrey United looking to pick up the league and cup double after edging Port Moody for first place. Despite their ultimate placings in the table, the head to head match ups were decidedly in PoMo’s favour, having gone undefeated against the champions, posting a win and two draws. That would point us towards what you would expect to be yet another close contest in this one. In addition to the solid head to head record, other intangible factors seem to be tilting towards the Rangers as well. Surrey veteran John Collins notes that Port Moody regularly play on turf, compared to Surrey who are on grass for their home matches, so that might be a slight edge. It is a meeting of familiar foes though, as Collins points out that “players from both sides know each other well and have played together in Nations Cup and All-Star squads.” Additionally, “both teams are very evenly match with Port Moody being a faster team that like to attack directly where Surrey Utd try to build up the play.” For manager Dave Hleucka, his main concern is the layoff that Surrey have played just one game over the last nine weeks, their semi-final win over North Delta on penalties. “Port Moody is a difficult match up for anyone,” said Hleucka, “They’re littered with very athletic and talented players from the back to the front. Keeping them in front of us will be the key because once they get balls into wide area’s or over the top their pace is very difficult to deal with.” In terms of combating that, he believes Surrey can rely on their strong defensive record from the season, noting “Our back line and goalkeeping will have to be called upon as our rocks once more. As a team we come in with a league leading 13 goals against and the two keepers combining for nine shutouts. We’ll be leaning on them once again.” For Port Moody, some extra weeks off has helped them get healthier. According to manager David Fletcher, “After a long Season we are now back to full strength with a lot of key players ready for the final.” He will be hoping that help tilt the balance in the Rangers favour and makes no bones about the fact that he and his side will be up for this one. “Surrey United are a great team and have battled us hard all year,” he said, “but we are disappointed in not winning the league so we will be looking for a bit of revenge on Saturday.”
MASTERS “ROB BROWN” B CUP
Fraser Valley Players vs. Temple United FC B – 10:30am Cloverdale Ath. Turf #1
Just like in the Masters A Cup, the Masters B Cup features a team seeking to attain a league and cup double. Fraser Valley Players were the Masters Division 1 champions this season and they are now seeking a second trophy to cap of their league campaign before they head into the Masters B Provincial Cup. There is no hiding their main threat, as teams are all now aware of Golden Boot winner Brian Scrivens who recorded an unbelievable 26 goals in just 16 league games (though in reality is was in over even fewer games due to some absences). That being said, Fraser Valley also boast the winner of the Masters Division 1 Golden Gloves, Marc Thorley, as he posted five clean sheets in goal for the Players. With a potent offense and resolute defense, it is easy to see how Fraser Valley came to be champions. Still, those stats are hardly going to deter Temple United FC B in this match, who know that all the records can be thrown out the window and they simply need to find a way to be the better team of one 90 minute stretch. Fraser Valley were 4-1 winners when these sides met in their first head to head of the campaign. However, just two weeks ago Temple finished the season with a solid 2-1 win over the Players. They will be hoping to repeat the feat this time around and, if they should accomplish it, carry some momentum, and a shiny trophy, along with them into their own Masters B Provincial Cup quest.
U21 “NEIL FUGE” CUP
Abbotsford United U21 vs. Westcoast FC United U21 – 10am Cloverdale Ath. Turf #2
The future is now for this pair of bright young teams. Abbotsford United U21 spent their league campaign playing in Division 1 and it was certainly a challenge. They finished second bottom, but could hold their heads high having given a good account of themselves amassing 18 points after posting five wins and three draws. Meanwhile Westcoast FC United U21 were ripping thing up in Division 3A where they finished second to runaway leaders SAFC Hawks. Both teams feature players who have earned appearances with their respective club’s first team, including Arsh Gill for Abbotsford along with Ryan Cordini and Dylan McKamey from Westcoast. These sides have not had a chance to meet this season, so there is likely to be somewhat of a feeling out process. That being said, both sides have already qualified for the Provincial Cup, so they should be able to play with some freedom and go for glory on Cup Finals Day!
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