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 Masters Cup First Round matches.
An expanded field means more teams with a chance at the prize. Will it simply be a watered down competition in the early rounds with the usual contenders eventually rising to the top? Or is there a Cinderella among the lot? Let’s get into it!
ICSF Columbus (VMSL) v SFC Temple (FVSL)
[Burnaby Lake West Field 2 – Friday April 21 – 9pm kick off]
Match of the Round in this one as the FVSL runners up head into the city to take on Columbus. Temple had a well-documented and, shall we say, effervescent season culminating in being crowned FVSL Masters Cup Champions following a controversial semi-final. The Surrey boys are no strangers to the spotlight and, in fact, seem to relish it. Could SFC take the Valley to the Promised Land and deliver a major trophy? Certainly they believe that they can. Their abilities will be put to the test from the outset against one of BC Soccer’s most storied clubs in Columbus. The Italians are multiple time past winners of this tournament, though those days as a juggernaut seem to be slightly in the rear view. It was a fourth place finish for ICSF in their league campaign and a .500 record. Not exactly the sort of resume that has you thinking Provincial contender, but, like other VMSL teams of their vintage, these guys are proven winners. Columbus’s main threat will be from leading scorer Franco Randazzo, though Temple should be well versed in dealing with potent goal scorers, having matched up against North Delta’s Kevin Gaull on four occasions this season. One thing that is likely is a great atmosphere in this one. Both teams have loyal supporters and the sidelines should be festive for this match. Let’s hope everything remains civil as tempers are likely to be on a knife edge throughout, with both sides having a reputation for flash points. The officials will need to keep a tight leash on proceedings because, at the end of the day, we all want to see the action on the pitch tell the story. As for a winner, the Temple boys seem to have a point to prove this season, I like them to progress.
Coastal FC Peace Arch (FVSL) v West Van (VMSL)
[South Surrey Athletic Park Field 5 – Saturday April 22 – 2pm kick off]
Tough draw for the Coastal boys in this one as the VMSL runners up will no doubt be targeting a deep Provincial Cup run. Laurent Scaligine is the man who bags the goals for the North Shore boys and powered them to an 11-3-7 record this season. A trip to the far side of the Lower Mainland might not be the most preferable draw for the former Trollers, but no doubt a local derby with lower league NorVan as their potential second round match up has caught their eye. The Coastal boys are long suffering when it comes to their record against the VMSL and I don’t like their odds against West Van in this one. Sure John Collins is always dangerous at the top end of the field, but Coastal were a step down from ND and SFC in the Valley this season and despite making the Masters Cup final, they were brushed aside without much effort for the eventual Champions, Temple. It’s another year older for this group and while they will always be competitive in the FVSL and offer possibly the best post game beer cooler in the Province, their days as Provincial Cup contenders might just be in their rear view mirror.
Cowichan 49ers (VISL) v F.K. Nicola Tesla (RASA)
[Sherman Road Turf, Cowichan – Saturday April 22 – 4pm kick off]
Great match up here as two second place teams meet in the first round. This could come down to strength of league, as Tesla only dropped five points this season compared to Cowichan who had a record of 11-3-4. The RASA is a fledgling league, especially on the Masters side, whereas the VISL has decent pedigree at this level. Will the strength of their weekly competition have Cowichan better prepared for a deep cup run? We will soon find out. Certainly Tesla will be “charged up” to try and capture a decent scalp for the Richmond league, so this will be no walk in the park for the Island lads. The travel factor should, as usual, not be discounted and a trek up Island is going to be quite the ask for a group that don’t generally leave the Richmond city limits. The balance favours Cowichan in this one, but it should be an entertaining tilt.
Gorge Backfit (VISL) v Westside (VMSL)
[Hampton Park, Saanich – Saturday April 21 – 4pm kick off]
One of three trips to the Island for Mainlanders. Westside will feel somewhat hard done by given that they won the VMSL Masters Cup but that was not good enough to be seeded in the competition. As a result they were handed a trip to the Island, with their potential reward being a match with VMSL Champions, Coquitlam. An added kick to the groin would be that the team they beat in that cup final, VMSL Divison 1 side NorVan, drew one of the randomly selected byes to the second round! That’s tough optics for the Westsiders and two time winners of this competition. The Vancouver boys have been limping along with a skeleton crew this season, but they once more showed that they know how to win when the chips are down. These guys are the definition of “veteran”, but they have the trophy case to prove that they are full value for their reputation. Can they get it done on the Island though? Again, the travel factor must be taken into account, especially when Westside aren’t exactly overflowing with bodies. I’m sure they’ll like their odds against the fourth placed team from the VISL in Gorge and if this one was in Vancouver, I think it would be a slam dunk for the Westsiders. On the Island however, I am less confident. Certainly they will need to ensure that VMSL Master’s Golden Boot runner up Justin Student is among their travelling contingent to give themselves any hope of bringing a win back on the ferry ride home. Gorge boasts a quality goal scorer as well though, in VISL Golden Boot winner Francesco Cortini. I suggest that the Island boys would be well advised to come out of the traps firing as I think this one goes one of two ways; either the Westside crew show their pedigree once more and grind one out or, if things get off to a rocky start, they quietly let this one slip away knowing a trip to Coquitlam likely would have precluded them from a deep run anyway. As for a prediction, I’ll take the Mainlanders, as on their day they can beat anyone; it just depends on whether it will be their day this weekend.
Delta United (FVSL) v UVIC Alumni (VISL)
[Dugald Morrison Turf, Delta – Saturday April 22 – 4pm kick off]
The only VISL team that has to travel to the Mainland in their first match is the Alumni. The third place team from the Island will travel to play Delta who claimed the final FVSL spot and are essentially only in the tournament thanks to the expanded field. UVIC Alumni are past winners in this tournament, but that was a decade ago and we’re talking about Masters here, so not sure that pedigree can be relied upon too heavily. The Alumni also bring with them a pair of goal threats in Toby Vallance and Jason Owen who netted 12 and seven goals respectively. As for Delta United they are a newer club to the Masters scene without really any reputation to go on and are almost here just to make up the numbers. If this one was on the Island I’d say it’s an easy UVIC win, but, given the travel, Delta does have a shot. I’ll still take the Islanders to win on the road though.
South Surrey FC (FVSL) v Howe Sound (BMSL/NCSL)
[South Surrey Athletic Park Field 9 – Saturday April 22 – 6pm kick off]
A good draw for a pair of lower table teams in this one. South Surrey were fifth in the Valley while Howe Sound moved to the Burnaby league as part of their merger with the North Shore Coaches League and managed a third place finish. Not sure either of these two can have serious title ambitions as whoever wins will be heavy underdogs against Croatia in the next round. Both teams have guys capable of putting the ball in the net in South Surrey’s Chad Oyhenart (10) and Scott Walters (9) as well as Howe Sound’s Jason Doyle (11) and Shaun Openshaw (8) so you would have to think there will be goals in this one. Overall though, it looks like a coin toss; I’ll take the home team.
VicWest (VISL) v PMO Rangers (FVSL)
[UVic Field 2A, Victoria – Sunday April 23 – 12.00pm kick off]
VicWest are one of two lower division teams to qualify for this competition via a Cinderella cup run. With a knack for knockout wins, I’m not sure anyone would be keen to draw these giantkillers, but that task has fallen to the Tri Cities boys from the Port Moody Rangers. A middling fourth place finish in the Valley won’t exactly have the Victoria lads shaking in their boots, but PMO will certainly fancy their chances against lower league opposition, especially with FVSL Golden Boot runner up Venny Atwell in the line-up. Honestly though, this looks like a case of “who will be fodder for North Delta” in the next round, but I’m sure both teams are focused solely on just advancing to that point for this week. Again, travel will play a role in this one, but this is the time of year when the cream rises to the top, and I cannot see a lower division team knocking off a Premier side come Provincials. No doubt VicWest will throw everything into this one, with plenty of home support, but I’ll take the Valley lads to progress.
PCOV (VMSL) v Burnaby Bulls (BMSL)
[Burnaby Lake West Field 2 – Sunday April 23 – 1.30pm kick off]
At the bottom of the draw we find PCOV who, despite seeing an abundance of travel on the horizon, have to like the looks of their odds of making some noise. In the bottom quarter there are no seeded teams and only West Van from the VMSL Premier Division. Due respect to the BMSL, but their fourth place team in the Burnaby Bulls is likely to be brushed aside with relative ease by a quality PCOV side. Europa, the BMSL runner up, waits on deck and you would have to think PCOV fancy their chances in that one as well. No points for falling at the first hurdle however, regardless of how must of a slam dunk it may appear on paper. Burnaby will need to be dealt with, but I back PCOV to do it at a jog.