Champions show their mettle as BC Provincial A Cup kicks off (inc video highlights)

Champions show their mettle as BC Provincial A Cup kicks off (inc video highlights)

The eight first round matches in this year’s Provincial A Cup took place this weekend and was the perfect pick me up after watching the ‘Caps capitulation in Kansas City. There were 28 goals and some cracking action as VMSL, FVSL, and VISL teams went to battle, with four of the matches needing more than the 90 minutes to settle them.

The end result was to set up a tasty looking quartet of quarter-final matches this weekend, with a slew of this season’s champions battling for the ultimate provincial prize, with the winners of all three leagues, the VMSL Imperial Cup, and the defending Provincial Cup champs all making it through to the last eight.

The action got underway on Friday night with a couple of close games out in the Valley.

It was a VMSL v FVSL clash that kicked things off in this year’s competition as VMSL Premier Division runners-up Pegasus FC hosted fourth placed FVSL side Port Moody Lordco Gunners at Newton Athletic Park. On paper, this should have been a relatively easy game for the Horsemen, but full credit to the visitors who made Pegasus work hard before they eventually scraped home with a goal with around five minutes left in extra time for the 1-0 win.

The Gunners had their chances, and their keeper was in great form, and they’ll be left rueing the fact that they should have put the tie to bed as full time approached with a couple of great opportunities to pull off the shock. First finding the side netting after rounding the Pegasus keeper and then crashing one off the post.

Pegasus had the better of the extra 30, with former WFC2 player Sahil Sandhu being denied by a couple of great saves from the PMO keeper. It looked like penalties were looming but the Surrey boys felt otherwise, eventually firing home the winner from about 10 yards out through a crowd of PMO players to secure the victory.

Langley United made the semi-finals last season and they got their 2018 campaign off and running with an all-FVSL clash at home to Surrey United Firefighters on the Willoughby Turf, and what a cracker it turned out to be.

It was always going to be a close affair between two teams who finished level on points for second place in the FVSL Premier standings. Surrey United have the Cup pedigree though and it showed in a fast paced start.

Tom Lowndes put them in front in the 16th minute and when FVSL Player of the Year Sean Einarsson doubled the lead on the half hour mark, it looked like another famous Cup win was on the cards for the Firefighters.

Langley had other ideas, however, and hit back with two goals before half time, pouncing on a couple of Surrey defensive blunders. All tied up and all to play for, but neither team could get the breakthrough in the next 45 minutes and extra time beckoned.

The deadlock remained after the extra 30, although Surrey had a goal ruled out for a foul on the keeper, and we were heading to penalties. In a good omen for things to come this season, TSS Rovers keeper Andrew Hicks was in fine form for Langley, saving two spot kicks as United won the shootout 4-2 to move into the quarter-finals.

South Surrey Athletic Park was the venue for the start of Saturday’s action as FVSL Premier and League Cup champions Coastal FC hosted Croatia SC from the VMSL. This was one of the matches that you fancied could go either way, with both teams capable of scoring at will it felt at times over the season.

As it played out the FVSL champs were simply too strong for the visitors. Croatia went in front around the 20 minutes mark, but Jake Starheim got Coastal back on terms as half time approached. Isaac Kyei headed home a Starheim cross early in the second half to put the home side ahead and Starheim got his brace, and wrapped up a 3-1 victory for Coastal in the final minute, firing home with the aid of a deflection.

VMSL Golden Boot winner David Malamura missed a stoppage time penalty for Croatia, and the FVSL champs moved into the quarter-finals>

Just along the road, it was the turn of VMSL Premier champions BCT Rovers Tigers United to enter the competition, as they played host to VISL runners-up Vic West. FC at Cloverdale Athletic Park.

The islanders have former WFC2 player Victor Blasco in their ranks and the Spaniard was a constant threat to Rovers Tigers in the first half, and fired the VISL side into a lead they took into half time.

United took the game to Vic West after the break, but the visitors defence held firm and they looked dangerous every time Blasco was on the ball. Then came perhaps the game changing moment, when after a series of tough tackles, Blasco had to be subbed off with an ankle injury.

Rovers Tigers then took over. After a couple of close calls, and some strong defending and goalkeeping, Vic West’s defences were breached 15 minutes from time, when Pavi Dhillon finished off a Cam Hundal pass at the near post.

But the home side could capitalise on the change of fortunes and the game headed to extra time.

The match was eventually settled just after the start of the second period of extra home, with soon to be TSS Rover Nick Soolsma firing home what was to prove to be the deciding goal. A huge scare for the VMSL champs, but they head into the quarter-finals for a meeting with fierce local rivals Pegasus FC at Cloverdale on Friday night (kick off 8.30pm).

So one VISL side out, but over on the island, it was the turn of four-time league champs Cowichan FC to knock out a visiting VMSL team, West Van, coming through a hard fought match with a 2-1 victory.

Both teams had some chances in the early going, but just as it looked like the sides would go into half time level, up popped Cowichan’s Craig Gorman to fire home a 43rd minute rocket into the top corner to give the islanders the lead at the break.

West Van were controlling the second half possession but it was Cowichan who were to find the net, as Gorman tucked away a Paddy Nelson cross in the 72nd minute to give the home side a 2-0 lead. Surely that was that? Well, no.

The VMSL side came storming back and pushed hard to get the goal that would get them back into the tie. Some resolute Cowichan defending and some important saves by Darian Achurch kept them at bay and they had to wait till two minutes before full time to finally breach the barricades.

They nearly tied it up in stoppage time but Achurch came up with a huge save and that was enough for Cowichan to finally eke through 2-1 and set up an all-island quarter-final with the winner of Nanaimo United and Lakehill FC later in the day, guaranteeing that a semi-final will be played on the island.

Nanaimo finished third in the VISL Division standings, with Lakehill one point behind them in fourth, so this had a close game written all over it and so it turned out.

Lakehill shocked the visitors by taking the lead before Daragh Fitzgerald tied things up for Nanaimo, sending the match into extra time. Fitzgerald added his, and United’s, second in the first half of extra time, and despite a late onslaught for a Lakehill equaliser, Nanaimo held on for the 2-1 win and a meeting with Cowichan next Saturday on the Sherman Road Turf (kick off 3pm).

The final two ties were played on Sunday, and it was two VMSL teams who came away with victories.

Jackson Cup champs, and previous A Cup winners, Gorge FC were hoping to make it a trio of island teams in the quarters, but they were stunned by a quickfire Club Inter, who were two up in the first two minutes.

There were no sea legs on show from the defending Provincial Cup champs as they shocked the home side with two goals in the opening two minutes from Nick Alie Day and Liam Miller. That was how it stayed to the half and despite Gorge doing their best to get back into the game, their fate was finally sealed when the SFU Clan’s Dzenan Bezdrob added a late third for Inter.

After missing players to suspension and injury, this was a strong win for the defending champions, who clearly don’t plan on giving up their title without a battle. And they’ll certainly get that in the next round as they head out to South Surrey Athletic Park on Saturday afternoon to face FVSL double winners Coastal FC (kick off is noon).

We headed to Burnaby Lake on Sunday afternoon to take in an intriguing battle between two cup winners – VMSL Imperial Cup champs Rino’s Tigers and FVSL Packenham Cup champs, and last year’s Provincial Cup runners-up, Aldergrove United.

Two young teams who are fun to watch, we had hopes of a high scoring affair. And it was in the end, albeit a very one-sided one, as Rino’s demolished the Valley boys to run out 6-0 winners.

Aldergrove returned to the scene of last year’s Provincial Cup final that saw them edged out 2-0 by Club Inter in a feisty affair. But it was a much different Aldergrove squad from last year, with around ten different players from the team that came so close to giving the FVSL that elusive first ever Provincial Cup.

Both teams can certainly play free flowing football and bang in the goals, but it was bit of a more cagey affair in the early going, with Rino’s dominating possession and knocking the ball about, while Aldergrove looked to hit on the counter.

The visitors weren’t offering much of an attacking threat, bar a Connor Hildebrandt free kick, and it felt like only a matter of time before Tigers took the lead. That eventually came towards the end of the half when Matteo Polisi fired one in from just outside the box. A lovely strike.

Still very much game on, but an uphill battle for Aldergrove became a mountain to climb when Erik Edwardson added a second on a breakaway three minutes into the second half.

Rino’s took complete control of the game and looked like they could score at will by end, constantly causing problems for the Aldergrove defence with their speed and quick counters.

Albert Cirac-Perez made it 3-0 in the 76th minute, controlling a nice through ball well, before tucking it past the Aldergrove keeper. Substitute Daniel Sagno made it four with some nice footwork and finish, before Polisi hit the goal of the game in the closing minutes, showing some fine footwork himself to make space and drill the ball high into the net. And there was still time for Sagno to grab his second, and Rino’s sixth, in the last minute to complete the rout.

You can see all the goals and some other highlights from the match in our video below.

A comfortable win for Tigers in the end and it’ll be very pleasing to the TSS Rovers management and fanbase, with five Rovers on display for Rino’s in the match, and three of them getting on the scoresheet for five of their six goals.

Rino’s will be at home again next week, back on their more familiar patch up at Point Grey, where they will host another FVSL side in the shape of last season’s semi-finalists Langley United (kick off 2.30pm).

You can see all of our photos from match (superbly captured by @VanCityVilla) on our Flickr account HERE and in the slideshow below.

So eight cracking first round matches in the books, what will the four quarter-finals bring? We’ll bring you full previews of those from Canucks4Ever later in the week, and a recap with more videos and photos next week. Check back on the site on Wednesday when we’ll bring you a full round-up of an eventful Keith Millar B Cup first round, including video highlights.

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Authored by: Michael McColl

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