AFTN will once again be bringing you full coverage of the BC Provincial Cups from the first round match ups to the finals, with reports, photos, and video highlights of selected matches (although the latter will have to wait a week to get underway due to being down in Portland this weekend for the Whitecaps – unless anyone else fancies capturing some action for us!).
We’re delighted to kick our coverage off this year with some match previews from Canucks4Ever from the Take The Piss forum. If you haven’t checked the site out before, head over and do so. Great banter and local coverage. Canucks4Ever has provided excellent VMSL previews and reports all season long, and we’ll be adding his stuff to AFTN now moving forward, starting with his previews of this weekend’s action across all four competitions.
Here’s his take on this weekend’s U21 Cup First Round matches.
Ok, so this really is the cup that actually nobody cares about…
Not sure if I’ll be able to keep up as, if I’m tight for time in a given week, this will be the first predictions to go. That being said, I’ll try to give the kids their due.
For those not familiar with my column, I am largely just pulling this stuff out of thin air. I try to find whatever information is readily available online, but ultimately I am just trying to generate some interest in local soccer in BC. If I have omitted or overlooked facts that you consider relevant to your team or league, it’s not done intentionally…get over it…;)
Prospect Lake Lakers (VISL) v Pacific United (VMSL)
[Layritz Park, Victoria – Saturday April 22 – Kick off 4pm]
A bit of an enigma match here that is very tough to predict. This game features third place from the Island hosting third place from the VMSL. Prospect Lake was a distant third place in the VISL U21 Division and only had six wins in a six team division. Other than a 1-0 win over league champion Mid-Island Mariners in October, they did not have much to write home about in terms of big results. Quite frankly, if this game was on the mainland I would have to think it would be a slam dunk for Pacific United. However, once more the travel factor cannot be dismissed. Can Pacific United get a good enough squad to Greater Victoria during exams? Certainly their parent club had quite the rash of forfeits during the VMSL campaign. Now I do not think that Pacific would be in that type of dire scenario, but the club’s behaviour at large does not inspire confidence in their ability to motivate their players to turn up. What kind of team will make it over? Who could guess? I’ll have to pick Pacific to win this one, based solely on their strength of schedule. However, if I’m Prospect Lake, I like this draw.
North Delta (VMSL) v Westcoast Juventus (FVSL)
[Delsom Turf, Delta – Saturday April 22 – Kick off 6pm]
North Delta were sixth out of six in the VMSL’s top half and essentially qualified for this competition based on the fact that every team comprising the top six of the VMSL U21 Division when they split the league at Christmas would receive a berth; barring a miracle Cup run from one of the lower teams. That’s basically a long winded way of saying that the ND boys (along with Burnaby for that matter) are really just here to make up the numbers. North Delta’s big brother team had a dismal season in the Vancouver Metro Premier League and their U21 campaign wasn’t exactly a redeeming pinnacle of hope, finishing with a record of 7-2-8. I suppose the argument could be made that the U21s were playing, and evidently losing to, the best VMSL teams and that their record would have been inflated had they continued to play the league’s lesser lights. Still though, a fall from grace for an organization that looked to be on the verge of making a big splash in the BC Soccer landscape. Where that leaves their program in terms of regrouping for next season remains to be seen, but, in the meantime, they have the opportunity to make a statement that North Delta SC still are the top tier club that migrated from the FVSL to the VMSL two seasons ago. To that end, a bit of pressure on Westcoast in this one to prove that the Fraser Valley League is capable of holding its own against the traditional powerhouse VMSL. There were only a handful of teams in the FVSL U21 division and it would seem that a further two of them were hardly competition at all. Westcoast finished second, but now must prove that a finish like that is worth more than sixth place in the VMSL. Who better to prove it against than the team that packed up shop and jumped ship? So, quietly, there is a lot on the line in this one, at least behind the scenes. Or perhaps I am just grasping at straws, trying to make a preliminary round in a division that is ostensibly overlooked have some gravitas… Regardless, I will take Westcoast to flex some FVSL muscle in this one (because if they don’t it will just be more fuel to the VMSL fire!)
West Van (VMSL) v Port Moody Gunners (FVSL)
[Ambleside D, West Vancouver – Sunday April 23 – Kick off 2pm]
With no heavy hitting teams playing in the preliminary games, this fixture sets up as the Match of the Round. West Van finished in second place in the VMSL’s upper tier of U21, while Port Moody were third in the Fraser Valley’s U21 Division but were U21 Cup Finalists, losing to league champions FC Barca. What really makes this fixture tasty (or at least more so than any other in this round) is that it has a pair of Golden Boot winners squaring off. West Van’s Adrian Sahagun led the way in the VMSL with an impressive 19 goals in 17 games. Meanwhile in the Valley, Kaveer Brar chalked up 18 goals in just 14 league games. At the very least we should all be hopeful of some goals in this one! As for a winner, I’ll have to lean towards to home team simple given the sample size of their work has been broader and arguably more challenging playing the top VMSL teams on multiple occasions, while the Gunners had a few freebies in a smaller league.
Gorge FC (VISL) v Burnaby Selects White Eagles (VMSL)
[Hampton Park, Saanich – Sunday April 23 – Kick off 4pm]
With all the league winners being seeded directly into the Quarter Finals, all the opening round match ups are fairly even. This fixture, however, might be the most lopsided of the opening round. The Vancouver Metro League split their U21 division after the first round of fixtures with the top teams competing for the Provincial Cup berths. It appears though, that Coquitlam Metro Ford have opted not to enter the Provincial Cup, thus Burnaby, who were the “best of the rest” in the second tier of the VMSL U21 Division, have evidently been invited to the dance. Gorge finished runners-up in the Vancouver Island U21 Division, but the Division did only contain six teams. So it’s altogether tough to get a read on either of these teams. To be honest, both just look like fodder for VMSL U21 Champion EDC in the next round, but there needs to be a winner in this one. Will Burnaby’s season of beating up on weaker teams give them the confidence that they need going into the Provincials? Or are Gorge perhaps a powerhouse second place team irrespective of the sample size offered by their small division? I’m tempted to lean towards the latter as the travel factor also looms large in this one. It could prove quite difficult to wrangle a bunch of teenagers onto a ferry to the Island in the middle of exam season. One player to watch might be Burnaby’s Nedeljko Kos, who potted nine times for the White Eagles this season. Could he be the difference maker in this game? Truthfully, I can’t see it happening. I like the second place finishers at home in this one.