By William Azzi, VMSL
Amazingly, all 4 Provincial Cup titles were won by VMSL teams, probably the first time in the history of this coveted competition. EDC Burnaby captured the ‘A’ Cup and will therefore represent British Columbia in the 2015 Canadian Championships. Westside FC won the Masters’ title and will participate in the Western Canada competition. Also, Guildford FC won the ‘B’ Cup and West Van FC walked away with the Under 21 title. Congratulations to all our teams for their remarkable efforts!
EDC BURNABY – INTER FC 3-1 (OT): On Sunday afternoon, at Willoughby Park in Langley, the underdog EDC Burnaby defeated Inter FC by a 3-1 overtime score after a very interesting, and somewhat controversial 120 minutes of non-stop action. The ‘Italians’ got off to a positive start and created several goalscoring opportunities in the early stages of the match. However, shots by Joseph Marrello, Milad Mehrabi, and Sebastian Crema barely missed the net. Also, EDC’s goalkeeper—Hugo Vasquez—pulled off some excellent saves on shots by Liam Miller, Jordan Michaels, and Colin Streckmann. As luck would have it, EDC Burnaby managed to take the lead midway through the first half when a long clearance by goalkeeper Hugo Vasquez was skillfully controlled by Habib Mohammed who then proceeded to beat a couple of Inter defenders before burying the ball into the back of the net for the game’s first goal.
The remainder of the first half was evenly played as both teams came close to scoring on a few occasions. For the Chileans, Rizal Ganief and Habib Mohammed had their shots saved by goalkeeper Andrew Fink, while Ylya Malek’s shot barely missed the target. At the other end of the pitch, efforts by Inter’s Milad Mehrabi and Bryan Fong sailed wide of the net, thus leaving the score at 1-0 till the halftime whistle. The second half was more or less a repeat of the first as Inter FC applied most of the pressure while EDC Burnaby defended tenaciously and occasionally counter-attacked dangerously. Inter FC was finally able to knot the score at the 80th minute mark when Marco Visintin was fouled inside the EDC penalty area by Hussein Ibrahim, resulting in a penalty kick being awarded. Young veteran Joseph Marrello stepped up to the plate and calmly converted the spot-shot for his team’s equalizer.
The remainder of regulation time was rather uneventful as neither team appeared willing in taking any chances. Very early in the first half of overtime, EDC’s Habib Mohammed was fouled inside the Inter penalty area by defender Bryan Fong. Much to Inter’s chagrin, the referee awarded EDC Burnaby a penalty kick for the infraction and Habib Mohammed himself converted the spot-shot for what proved to be the winning goal. To add insult to Inter’s injury, Tino Cucca was then sent off the field of play for his vociferous complaints towards the referee. A few minutes later, Inter was reduced to 9 players when defender Colin Streckmann was also sent off for having received his second caution during the match.
Despite being 2 men down, Inter FC continued pressing in search of the equalizer and came close to achieving its goal when a diving header by Milad Meharbi barely missed the net. With about 10 minutes to go, EDC Burnaby’s Stedman Espinoza was also sent off the field of play for having accumulated 2 cautions. Shortly thereafter, Habib Mohammed came close to scoring on a couple of occasions, but his first shot was cleared off the line by an Inter defender, while goalkeeper Andrew Fink pulled off a remarkable save on Mohammed’s second effort.
Very late in the match, EDC Burnaby was able to score the insurance marker when Eric Ray set up Rizal Ganief on a lethal counter-attack. Ganief then proceeded to bury the ball into the back of the Inter net for the game’s final goal.
For his marvellous performance, forward Habib Mohammed received the Most Valuable Player award from BCSA. EDC’s goalkeeper Hugo Vasquez also deserves special mention for his excellent performance as he pulled off several semi-miraculous saves during the entire 120 minutes of play. Despite the heart-breaking loss, Inter’s midfielder Joseph Marrello and forward Milad Mehrabi played extremely well during the entire game. EDC Burnaby will now travel to Calgary, Alberta for the National Championships during the month of October. Best of luck from the entire VMSL contingent!!
WESTSIDE FC ‘M’ – CROATIA SC ‘M’ 2-1 (PK’s): The Masters’ Division final was also played on Sunday at Willoughby Park in Langley and also featured two VMSL teams: Westside FC and Croatia SC. As the score indicates, the game was very evenly played and the result had to be settled on penalty kicks.
Midway through the first half, the Croatians almost took the lead when Petar Sulentic drove a wicked shot towards the Westside net from the edge of the penalty area. Unfortunately for Sulentic—and the rest of the Croatian contingent—the ball bounced off the goalpost and sailed out of danger. The Westsiders responded in kind and also came close to taking the lead late in the first half when Keith Moore’s well-placed cross found a wide-open Justin Student. However, Student’s final shot was redirected by a Croatia SC defender and the ball subsequently barely missed the net.
The second half was more or less a repeat of the first as both teams took turns attacking and defending. The best scoring chance came very late in regulation time when an immaculate cross by Mike Mosher was headed towards the Croatia SC net by Craig Chiasson. However, goalkeeper Didar Sandhu stood up to the task and pulled off an incredible save to keep the game scoreless till the final regulation time whistle. Westside FC took the lead very early in the first overtime period when Craig Chiasson and Mike Mosher played a clever give-and-go from a corner-kick, a play that ended with Chiasson finding the back of the net with an unstoppable shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Very early in the second overtime period, the Croatians knotted the score when Jason Jordan set up Matt Mori just outside the penalty area. Mori proceeded to fight off a Westside defender before unleashing a wicked shot past goalkeeper Mike Wicken and into the back of the net for the equalizer.
The match ended in a 1-1 overtime tie and had to be settled by penalty kicks. For Westside FC, Keith Moore, Craig Chiasson, James Prescott, and Jason Small scored on their shots, while Simon Heald had his spot-shot brilliantly saved by Didar Sandhu. For Croatia SC, Peter Bergholz, Graeme Zucko, and Dave Soric found the back of the net with their shots. However, Darko Jelic was robbed by a phenomenal save on the part of Mike Wicken while Chris Craveiro’s shot bounced off the goalpost.
The entire Westside FC squad played extremely well, but special mention should be made of midfielder Keith Moore for his superlative performance, a performance that resulted in Moore being chosen as the Most Valuable Player of the match. Also, forwards Craig Chiasson and Simon Heald were dangerous throughout the match as they put goalkeeper Didar Sandhu to the test on numerous occasions. For Croatia SC, goalkeeper Didar Sandhu turned in one of his usual outstanding performances, while forwards Matt Mori and Jason Jordan also deserve special mention for their tireless efforts. The victory qualifies Westside FC for the Western Canadian finals.
WEST VAN FC ‘U-21’ – SURREY UNITED ‘U-21’ 2-1 (PK’s): The Under 21 final also featured two VMSL teams: West Van FC and Surrey United. Once again, the match was highly-contested and evenly-played. At the end of 90 minutes of regulation time, and 30 minutes of overtime, the game ended in a 1-1 tie. As a result, penalty kicks were used to determine the Under 21 Provincial Cup champions. West Van FC was able to lay claim to the title by outscoring Surrey United in the shoot-out.
The first half was very evenly played as both teams took turns attacking in search of the all-important opening goal. However, some solid defending by both teams kept the game scoreless till the halftime whistle. West Van FC started taking control of the match at the beginning of the second half and came close to scoring on a few occasions. However, efforts by Stashan Coady and Mike Mauro went awry, thus keeping the game scoreless till the 60th minute.
At this point—against the run of play—Surrey United took the lead when midfielder Jordan Frasca controlled a long throw-in from Connor Prentice, beat a couple of West Van defenders and blasted a long-range shot into the back of the net for the game’s opening goal. West Van FC responded positively and eventually tied things up—at about the 75th minute mark—when Bruno Fieri-Marino finished off a brilliant passing play—also involving Ravi Fisher and Michael Mauro—with a wicked full-volley.
West Van FC continued to press in search of the winning goal, but efforts by Bruno Fieri-Marino, Keith Jackson, and Mike Mauro barely missed the target. As a result, regulation time ended in a 1-1 tie, thus sending the game into overtime. West Van FC continued to press during both overtime periods but some solid defending on the part of Surrey United’s Brennan Hoffman and Matthew Pierre kept the match tied till the final whistle.
In ensuing penalty-kick shoot-out, West Fan FC’s Ravi Fisher, Saman Purewal, and Evan Libke were able to convert their shots. However, Daniel Han’s penalty kick hit the crossbar, while Stashan Coady had his shot saved by goalkeeper Andrew Hicks. For Surrey United, Tyler Henderson was the only one to score, while James Heffey, Connor Prentice, and Curtis Campagnolo had their shots brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Hudson Nelles. For his brilliant performance, Hudson Nelles—particularly in the shoot-out—was subsequently named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Congratulations to the entire West Van FC team, particularly to coach Leo Nash, for their remarkable performance!
GUILDFORD FC – PORT ALBERNI ATHLETIC 3-0: The Provincial ‘B’ Cup final was the only one-sided match of the day as the VMSL’s Guildford FC easily defeated Port Alberni Athletic (from the Vancouver Island League) by an elaborate 3-0 margin.
The first half was a rather lackluster affair as neither team seemed willing to take any unnecessary risks. The turning point of the contest occurred early in the second half when Port Alberni’s Daniel Klint received his second caution of the contest. As a result, the Vancouver Island team had to play the rest of the match with only 10 players, thus allowing Guildford FC to take full control. At about the 55th minute mark, Guildford FC took the well-deserved lead on a brilliant goal by Nick Favia who finished off an excellent cross from Inderveer Gill in clinical fashion. It should be mentioned that the play originated with a prolonged passing sequence that involved practically the entire Guildford team!
Shortly thereafter—at about the 58th minute mark—Nick Favia scored his second goal of the match, this time on a fine individual effort as he broke through the defensive Port Alberni wall before slotting the ball into the back of the net, At the 65th minute mark, Guildford FC put the Islanders out of their misery by scoring the third—and final—goal. On this occasion, Inderveer Gill became the finisher as he raced in on goal on a partial breakaway before slotting the ball into the back of the net.
The entire Guildford FC team played exceptionally well, but special mention should be made of central defender Dhani Sharma who was rock-solid throughout the match as he made things quite easy for goalkeeper Matthew Knees to record the clean-sheet. As a result of his brilliant performance, Dhani Sharma was named the match’s Most Valuable Player. Congratulations to the entire Guildford FC squad!!
TEAM OF THE WEEK: EDC BURNABY for its upset 3-1 overtime victory over Inter FC. Led by the incredible performances of forward Habib Mohammed and goalkeeper Hugo Vasquez, the Chileans were able to defeat the heavily-favoured Inter FC. As a result of the victory, EDC Burnaby will represent British Columbia at the Canadian National Championships.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: EDC Burnaby forward HABIB MOHAMMED for his brilliant performance in his team’s amazing 3-1 overtime victory over Inter FC. Not only did Mohammed score two excellent goals, but he also drove the Inter defenders to distraction with his skill and tenacity.