– By Willi Azzi
INTER FC – ICST PEGASUS 3-2:
On Friday evening, at Newton Athletic Park in Surrey, Inter FC continued its impressive winning streak by defeating ICST Pegasus by a narrow—and hard-earned—3-2 margin.
The ‘Italians’ took the early lead—at about the 10th minute mark—when a perfect cross by Milad Mehrabi was converted in clinical fashion by Jacob Lensky as his close-range header gave goalkeeper Andy Singh no chance whatsoever. Inter FC kept pressing and came very close to scoring its second goal shortly thereafter when Kam Amini worked his way through the midfield, beat a few Pegasus defenders, and unleashed what appeared to be an unstoppable shot towards the top corner of the net. However, the ball struck the crossbar and was subsequently cleared by a Pegasus defender.
At this point, the home team started taking control of the match and was able to knot the score midway through the first half. The play originated from a great cross by Omari Aldridge, a cross that found an unmarked Reynold Stewart at the edge of the Inter penalty area. Without a moment’s hesitation, Stewart proceeded to volley the ball into the back of the net for the equalizer. ICST Pegasus continued to apply a lot of pressure on the Inter defense during the remainder of the first half, but some excellent defending on the part of Adriano Clemente and Jordan Michael kept the score at 1-1 till the halftime whistle.
The second half started in a very similar fashion to the first as Inter FC exerted a lot of pressure on the Pegasus backline in the early stages. At about the 55th minute mark, Inter FC was compensated to its constant pressure when Milad Mehrabi’s cross found second-half substitute Sebastian Crema inside the 18-yard box. Crema proceeded to one-time the ball with a clever chip shot, over the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Andy Singh. Inter FC continued pressing and came close to scoring on a couple of occasions but Milad Mehrabi was unable to finish off passes by Jacob Lensky and Brian Fong as both his shots barely missed the net. As luck would have it, it was ICST Pegasus that was able to tie things up midway through the second half when a long-range free-kick by Chetan Jhooty bounced off the defensive wall. Jhooty himself picked up the rebound and quickly fired a low, hard drive into the corner of the Inter net for the equalizer.
The home team kept pressing and came close to taking the lead on a few occasions, but shots by Chetan Jhooty and Reynold Stewart were brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Andrew Fink. Late in the match—at about the 85th minute mark—Inter FC was able to score the winning goal when a well-taken corner kick by young veteran Joseph Marrello was controlled by Adriano Clemente who then chipped the ball back onto the path of Colin Streckmann. Streckmann’s subsequent header found the back of the net for what proved to be the winning goal.
The entire Inter FC team played remarkably well, but special mention should be made of midfielders Joseph Marrello and Jacob Lensky who controlled the middle of the park in superb fashion. Also, forwards Milad Mehrabi and Sebastian Crema played extremely well in a winning cause. For ICST Pegasus, forwards Reynold Stewart and Chetan Jhooty were dangereous during the entire match, despite the heart-breaking loss. Inter FC thus advances to the semi-finals of the Provincial Cup, against the North Delta Lions, the top team in the Fraser Valley Soccer League. The game will be played on Saturday, May 2, at South Memorial Park, starting at 4:00 p.m.
COWICHAN FC – LANGLEY FC HURRICANES 2-0:
On Sunday, at Ladysmith Park in Cowichan, the hosting Cowichan FC—of the Vancouver Island Soccer League—upset the visiting Langley Hurricanes by a 2-0 margin. The home team took the early lead—at about the 10th minute mark—when a long ball from Tyler Hughes was headed across the goal area by Dan Cato onto the path of Paddy Nelson. Nelson had no difficulty in finishing off the play with an unstoppable close-range header, for what proved to be the winning goal.
The Hurricanes replied positively and came close to equalizing midway through the first half when Nick Soolsma raced in on goal on a breakaway. However, goalkeeper Scott Brown stood tall and pulled off a remarkable—and vital—save to maintain his team’s 1-0 lead till the half-time whistle. Midway through the second half, Cowichan FC scored what proved to be the insurance marker when Craig Gorman finished off a tidy sequence of passes with an excellent shot. The Hurricanes continued pressing in search of their first goal, but some excellent defending on the part of Steve Scott and Kevan Brown kept the vaunted Langley FC attackers at bay.
For Cowichan FC, goalkeeper Scott Brown fully deserved the clean-sheet as he made numerous excellent saves during the entire contest. Also, defensive midfielders Steve Scott and Kevan Brown deserve special mention for their outstanding performances, while forwards Paddy Nelson and Craig Gorman were very dangerous throughout the contest. As a result of the hard-earned victory, Cowichan FC will now face another VMSL team—EDC Burnaby—in the Provincial Cup semi-finals.
EDC BURNABY – RICHMOND FC HIBERNIANS 4-1:
On Saturday, at Hugh Boyd Park in Richmond, the visiting EDC Burnaby disposed of the Richmond Hibernians by a clear-cut 4-1 margin. The Hibernians got off to a positive start and almost took the lead very early in the match when Craig McMillan’s shot barely missed the target. As luck would have it, it was EDC Burnaby that took the lead shortly thereafter—at about the 10th minute mark—when Ylya Malek found an unmarked Habib Mohammed with an impeccable through ball. Mohammed then proceeded to blast an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the Richmond net thus giving his team the early lead. The Hibs fought back tenaciously and almost tied things up on a couple of occasions, but shots by Matteo Serka and Peter Chivers were well saved by goalkeeper Hugo Vasquez. Finally—midway through the first half—Peter Chivers was able to score the equalizer when he curled a long-range free-kick over the defensive wall and into the top corner of the EDC Burnaby net.
The Chileans replied in kind and came close to retaking the lead on a couple of occasions, but efforts by Joe Agiba and Ylya Malek sailed over the crossbar. At the other end of the pitch, the Hibernians also came close to scoring, but a couple of efforts by Matteo Serka missed the target. Early in the second half, Richmond FC once again came close to taking the lead when Craig McMillan’s wicked volley barely missed the net, with goalkeeper Hugo Vasquez well-beaten. As luck would have it, it was EDC Burnaby that took the lead—midway through the second half—when Habib Mohammed converted an excellent cross from Ylya Malek with an impeccable header. Needless to say, the tenacious Hibernians bounced back and almost equalized on a couple of occasions, but Tyson Popoff’s volley went wide of the net, while Craig McMillan’s first-timer hit the cross-bar.
At this juncture, Richmond FC continued to press in search of the tying goal, while EDC Burnaby relied mainly on defending and counter-attacking. At the 80th minute mark, the Chileans scored the insurance marker on a lethal counter-attack when Ylya Malek sent Habib Mohammed on a breakaway with an excellent through ball. In a cheeky manner, Mohammed flicked the ball over goalkeeper Jason Roberts and then deposited it into the empty net for what could be described as a marvellous goal. Late in the match, EDC Burnaby scored its fourth—and final—goal when Ducivan DeSouza received an excellent pass from Ylya Malek and proceeded to chip it over goalkeeper Jason Roberts and into the net. Needless to say, Habib Mohammed and Ylya Malek turned in outstanding performances for EDC Burnaby. Malek set up all 4 of his team’s goals with excellent passes, while Mohammed registered a hat-trick with 3 amazing goals. Also, defender Gus Ramizez deserves special mention for his rock-solid performance.
For the Hibernians, defenders Marcus Brougham and Tyson Popoff—as well as midfielders Peter Chivers and Lucas Barrett—also played remarkably well, despite the loss. EDC Burnaby will now face Cowichan FC in the semi-finals of the Provincial Cup. The match will take place at Burnaby Lake West on Saturday, May 2. Kick-off time is slated for 3:00 p.m.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: INTER FC for its splendid performance in defeating ICST Pegasus by a narrow—but well-earned—3-2 margin in the Provincial Cup quarter-finals. Led by the outstanding play of forward Milad Mehrabi—as well as midfielders Joseph Marrello and Jacob Lensky—Inter FC fully deserved the hard-earned victory.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: EDC Burnaby’s forward HABIB MOHAMMED for his incredible hat-trick performance in his team’s 4-1 victory over the Richmond Hibernians. All 3 of Mohammed’s goals were thingS of beauty as he displayed a remarkable goalscoring prowess.