It was meant to be the traditional BC Provincial Cups Finals Day at Burnaby Lake on Sunday, and although the snow put paid to all of the men’s finals taking place on the same day, all four of the men’s competitions will be in action.
Both the A Cup and Doug Day U21 final will take place, with the venue also hosting one Deryl Hughes Masters Cup semi-final (the other one takes place on Vancouver Island) and the second Keith Millar B Cup semi-final, so a veritable feast of footballing action lies in store for you.
The first B Cup semi-final took place on Saturday, with VMSL Division 2 Cup winners NVFC Norvan Storm claiming their place in the final in two weeks time with a 2-1 win over Fraser Valley Red Devils. We’ll have full details of that match, along with video highlights, later in the week.
Who will they meet? They’ll know by Sunday lunchtime, with the second semi-final between Poco FC Royals and Vancouver Greencaps kicking off at 9.45am. You can read our preview for that match up HERE.
We’ll hand you over now to Canucks4Ever from the Take The Piss forum for previews of both the U21 and A Cup finals and kicking things off with his preview of the Masters semi-final match ups.
Cowichan 49ers (VISL) v Coquitlam Metro Ford (VMSL)
[Sherman Road Turf, Duncan – Sunday May 14 – Noon kick off]
The lone VISL team still remaining in any Provincial Cup, Cowichan, will be counting on home field advantage to propel them past the VMSL Champions, Metro Ford. Both teams have had little trouble in the competition to this point, with neither really having a scare put into them by any of their previous competitors. Cowichan have yet to face a VMSL team in the tournament though, having knocked off a RASA, BMSL, and FVSL opponent in their quarter of the draw, and they will be handed a tough test in Coquitlam, the cream of the Vancouver League this season. Metro Ford, on the other hand, have faced only domestic competition to this point, knocking off traditional powerhouses Westside and Columbus on their route to the semis. Travel, as always, should not be overlooked, but Cowichan themselves know that this is far from a deal breaker given that they travelled to the mainland in the Round of 16 to defeat Roma. Overall, given the down year for the island and the pedigree of Metro Ford, I expect the VMSLers to be comfortable in this one.
Croatia SC (VMSL) v PCOV (VMSL)
[Burnaby Lake West Field 1 – Sunday May 14 – 12.30pm kick off]
The Match of the Round is a domestic encounter from the Vancouver Metro Soccer League. Third place PCOV takes on fifth place Croatia and both teams have benefited from being in a rather open bottom half of the draw. The only seeded team, the RASA Champion Richmond Old Blacks, was seen off at the first hurdle by Delta, who would then be knocked off by Croatia in the quarter-finals. These two teams likely fancied their chances and, sure enough, here they are in a semi-final.
Croatia got past Delta, as mentioned, as well as their FVSL compatriots South Surrey to reach this stage following a randomly drawn first round bye. PCOV got a tour of the BMSL, knocking off Burnaby Bulls and Europa FC, before putting their VMSL counterparts, West Van, to the sword last weekend in a 5-0 victory. Neither of these teams have conceded a goal in the tournament, a statistic that we all hope will change in the semi-final. Nobody is routing for a greasy 0-0 penalty shootout. These teams have had no trouble finding the back of the net this year as Croatia put up 49 in 21 league matches. PCOV only scored 37 goals in the league, but have exploded for 13 in their three Provincial Cup games.
Lots of reasons to be optimistic then if you are a neutral at the park on Sunday. The Portuguese had the better of it in league play, finishing higher and, after losing their first meeting 1-0, beating Croatia 2-1 and 3-2 in their subsequent fixtures. Those one goal scorelines indicate that this one should be close, but I like PCOV’s form. Blowing out a traditional powerhouse in West Van is a statement result and I back them to build on that and make the final.
West Van (VMSL) v Pacific Utd. (VMSL)
[Burnaby Lake West Field 3 – Sunday May 14 – Noon kick off]
An all-VMSL final this season, again, and this year it pits second place West Van against third place Pacific Utd. There was a seven point gap, however, between these two teams and West Van owned the two league meetings among the clubs, winning 3-1 and 4-0. Pacific though, have put the past behind them in this Provincial Cup competition, as they got revenge over their Surrey neighbours CCB Guildford in the semi finals. CCB had cruised past Pacific 4-1 in the U21 Cup Final a month earlier, but Pacific rallied and flipped the script in a hard fought 1-0 last weekend.
West Van have been exorcising some demons of their own in this tournament, knocking off EDC Burnaby after the Chileans had pipped them to the league title. They impressively travelled to the Island last weekend and defeated Mid-Island Mariners 2-1, adding another league champion’s scalp to their mantle.
As ever, you just hope this occasion is worthy of a final and the situation does not overawe the kids. The stats all lean in West Van’s favour, they scored more while allowing fewer goals than Pacific and they boast the league’s top scorer Adrian Shaghan. He had 19 goals in 17 games during the VMSL campaign and has added three more goals in three Provincial Cup games. Chase Taylor-Robins scored 10 goals for West Van in league play (and has added another in the Provincials) while Pacific’s top scorers Joshveer Kang and Jasi Bains only managed 8 and 6 respectively during the season and neither have hit the score sheet in the Provincial Cup.
Pacific can take solace in the fact that knockout competitions seem to be their specialty this year, now in their second final, but West Van have to be the favourites in this one. Best of luck to Pacific and congratulations to both teams on a great season and fantastic Provincial Cup campaign, but I see West Van standing in the winner’s circle at the end of this one.
Aldergrove Utd (FVSL) v Club Inter (VMSL)
[Burnaby Lake West Field 3 – Sunday May 14 – 3pm kick off]
For the first time this Millennium, a Fraser Valley Soccer League team will play for the highest honour the Province has to offer. Aldergrove United, on the back of a title winning season in the FVSL, will look to be the first Fraser Valley team to lift Men’s BC Provincial Cup in the trophy’s 95 year history.
The Valley 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. 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!
Standing in their way is yet another VMSL team. Club Inter are in the final for the second time in three seasons. Their last trip to the big show resulted in a loss to Estrella de Chile after some controversial refereeing decisions. Prior to that, Inter had been through somewhat of a rebuild. A shock relegation at the end of 2012 was met with instant return to the top flight as Division 1 Champions. The Italians, though, struggled to consolidate their Premier status the following season as they were propping up the table at Christmas time. An injection of UBC talent pulled the program out of the danger zone and, after further off season recruitment, they found themselves in a Provincial Cup Final in 2015, only three seasons after relegation. Never VMSL Championship contenders, Inter seem to save it for big games. Another mid table finish this season saw them take Provincial Cup qualification right down to the final weekend of the season when they knocked off VMSL Champions Coquitlam Metro Ford by a 1-0 margin. They had done just enough, and that would become somewhat of a theme for the Vancouver club. They squeaked past defending Provincial Cup Champions Pegasus 1-0 in the opening round and then posted another 1-0 win over the FVSL’s Port Moody after that game was rearranged due to a lighting issue. Their semi-final pitted them against another FVSL team in Langley United, who had plenty to play for given that they, as a club along with the FVSL, are hosting the Canadian Soccer Association Adult Amateur National Championships in October. Inter again did just enough, emerging as 2-1 victors.
This battle of FVSL against VMSL has been bubbling under the surface, and on occasion over the top, for some time now. The Valley is tired of being deemed a second class league and are eager to prove that they belong at the table with their Vancouver cousins. History has not been kind to the FVSL however, as a check of the archives shows that they have but a trio of U21 Provincial titles to their name won by Port Moody Gunners in 2007, 2009 and 2012 (*Poco Castilians won the Masters title in 2014, but I believe they were competing in the VMSL that season).
Like the small rocks that precede a coming avalanche, the FVSL will hope an Aldergrove win can be that catalyst that propels them to new heights on both the Provincial and National stage. A Provincial Cup title would qualify Aldergrove for that National Championship that the FVSL is hosting later this year, though, given the usual nature of the tournament, it is very likely that British Columbia will receive two berths, thus meaning that both Inter and Aldergrove will qualify regardless of the outcome of this final. However, a championship would, under the current format, also give the FVSL an additional berth for next season’s Provincial Cup. As it stands, the defending champion’s league is awarded a extra spot in the competition, though the VMSL are arguing to have that floating spot permanently assigned to their league. The argument is that the VMSL is consistently producing champions in the A Cup, as well as across all four men’s competitions.
Indeed last year all eight men’s finalists were from the VMSL along with the majority of semi-finalists, including all four A Cup semi-finalists. Again this season the VMSL is performing well, while only one of the A Cup finalists is from their league, the draw was cruel to the VMSL, matching 6 of their 7 entrants against each other in the opening round. In fact, across all the Provincial Championships this season, outside of the B Cup where there have been no all-VMSL match ups, only four of the VMSL’s 20 entrants have lost to non-domestic opponents. Therefore an Aldergrove win would go a long way to helping the leagues outside of the VMSL hold onto their Provincial berths.
As for the match on Sunday, it has got star power in spades. Connor Hildebrandt, the TSS Rovers man, is the pulse of Aldergrove along with striker Brett Wiens. They’ll match up against the Milads, Rhamati and Mehrabi from Inter, who also boast former Edmonton FC man and Capilano College alum Michael Nonni.
The stats favour Aldergrove, as a league champion they should be favourite, but history is on Inter and the VMSL’s side. Arguments for both teams to be David and/or Goliath. It sets up as one for the ages and I think we are all hoping that the game lives up to its billing. There’s plenty of hype and history is on the line, but it’s a Provincial Cup Final it’s supposed to be “a bit dramatic, innit?”. I really like Aldy in this one, but frequent readers of my column will know that I tend to live by the idea that if you want to be the man, you gotta beat the man, and the FVSL has never beat the man. Good luck to both teams, congratulations on a pair of great seasons, and Aldy: go prove me wrong and make history! I’ll take Inter to win.
If you can’t make it along in person, the A Cup and U21 finals will be streamed live HERE.