With the preliminary round games in the history books last weekend, Canucks4Ever takes a look at this week’s round of 16 match ups.
NVFC NorVan Lions (VMSL) v West Van FC (VMSL)
[Ambleside D, West Vancouver – Friday April 28 – 7.30pm kick off]
A North Shore derby jumps of the page in this round and Division 1 NorVan will be keen to prove that they can go toe to toe with the big boys. Having qualified via a cup final appearance, they will be eager to prove that they are more than just Cinderellas. NorVan claimed three Masters Premier scalps during their cup run, knocking off Van United, Columbus, and PCOV before ultimately coming up short against Westside in the final. Jesse Symons and Sandeep Sull each netted six times for NorVan and no doubt the Division 1 boys could use strong performances from those two if they are to have any chance of getting past their North Shore neighbours. West Van were forced to trek to White Rock to take on a plucky Coastal side in the first round. The VMSLers looked to be cruising until a pair of late goals made for a nervy finish in what would eventually become a 3-2 win. The cream rises to the top this time of year and, despite a great cup run, the signs are ominous for NorVan. Vic West came into the competition with an all too similar resume to that of NorVan and they were woefully off the pace in their 6-2 loss to Port Moody. Add the fact that West Van have no intention of losing local bragging rights and that sound you hear is the clock chiming midnight. The ball is over, West Van to progress.
Coquitlam Metro Ford PCE v Westside FC
[Coquitlam Town Centre East – Friday April 28 – 8pm kick off]
Chalk up another win for the old-guard at Westside. An impressive Island victory at Gorge ensured that they continued to prove to everyone that age is only a number. It will be a tall order to replicate that feat at the home of the VMSL Master’s Champions in Coquitlam. Metro Ford won the division going away; finishing 15 points clear at the top. This echoed the performance put in by their Open team in winning the VMSL Premier title by a wide margin as well as a new entrant in Division 3 who coasted to yet another championship for the club. There must be something in the water out there! Back when these two sides were playing Premier together, Westside, more often than not, just seemed to get the better of the Tri Cities boys, but of late it’s been a different story. This year Metro Ford went 3-0 against the Vancouverites, though I suppose one of those was a late season forfeit. Coquitlam also boast the league Golden Boot winner, something else they share in common with their Open Premier cousins; Tiarnan King scored 22 times for Metro Ford this season. Westside should never be counted out, as these guys prove time and time and time again that they can beat anyone on any day. In this battle of League Champion versus Cup Champion though, I’ll take the league leaders. However, I expect a cracker of a match.
Croatia SC (VMSL) v South Surrey FC (FVSL)
[Empire Field South, Vancouver – Friday April 28 – 8pm kick off]
Croatia drew the first of three random byes to the second round and now they host South Surrey. The Croatians Open Premier squad has traditionally been led by the Sulentic clan, though their years might finally be catching up to them. Petar appears to have made the transition to Masters, netting six times this campaign, though Johnny it seems is still plying his trade as a “young veteran” with the Open boys. The talisman for the Master’s group is Tarek Yassin, who scored a team leading 11 goals this campaign. Club stalwarts Tom Rukavina and Darko Jelic chipped in with seven and six apiece as well. Plenty of fire power to go around and plenty of pedigree as well for the Croatians, who will be keen on being drawn away from the majority of the seeded teams in the bottom half of the draw. South Surrey, I believe, are making their debut in the Provincial Tournament and did well to announce themselves with a 2-1 win over Howe Sound in their opener. Croatia will be a cut above that however, so I have to think this is the end of the line for the FVSL lads this season.
North Delta SC (FVSL) v Port Moody Rangers (FVSL)
[Dennis Elsom Turf, Delta – Friday April 28 – 8.30pm kick off]
A domestic FVSL derby in this one and it should be an intriguing one. Despite finishing fully 20 points ahead of Port Moody in the table, ND hardly had their way with the Tri Cities boys in their head to head encounters. It was a 2-2 draw in October at Delsom followed by North Delta eking out a 2-1 win in a late season, FVSL make-up special, “true six-pointer” in the return fixture. So it’s not a slam dunk for the FVSL Master’s Champions, though they will surely be confident against a known quantity in Rangers. Seeing a team they struggled against in league runners up, Temple (North Delta were 1-2-1 against the Surrey boys, including a dodgy PK loss against nine men in the Masters Cup semi final), get thoroughly thrashed by mid-table VMSL side Columbus surely caught North Delta’s attention. Perhaps, then, North Delta will take a small amount of comfort knowing that they will be well and truly favoured in this one. FVSL Master’s Golden Boot winner Kevan Gaull will be itching to try and open his account, though surely Port Moody will not need to be brought up to speed on the threat that he poses. It will be a tall order then for the Rangers, who were buoyed by a convincing 6-2 drubbing of Vic West on the Island in the Preliminary Round. While it’s always impressive to see a team cross the Strait of Georgia and return with a win, it must be noted that Vic West were not a top tier team, having qualified for the tournament via a Cinderella cup run. In the end, while Port Moody were full value for their opening victory and will certainly play hard again this weekend, I would expect to see North Delta marching on.
Roma FC (BMSL) v Cowichan 49ers (VISL)
[Confederation Turf, North Vancouver – Saturday April 30 – 3.30pm kick off]
The Match of the Round. Cowichan tied for first place on the Island, but tiebreakers saw them bumped to runners up. As a result they had to get a tune up match under their belt in the Preliminary Round. Fortunately, they didn’t seemingly need to shift out of first gear to see off the travelling Nicola Tesla from the Richmond league, coasting to a 4-0 win. This year, Roma took themselves and their compatriots from the North Shore Coaches League, where they had been on, or about, top of the heap for a few seasons, to the Burnaby Men’s Soccer League. This was, among other reasons, for the opportunity to expand their competition so that when it reached Provincial Cup time, they were better seasoned to trade blows with the big boys from the more renowned leagues. When it was all said and done, they emerged at the summit of this new challenge and are now set to reap the rewards of finishing in first place: a first round bye and a chance to play at home. It’s a three headed monster in attack for Roma led by leading goal scorer Terrence Bell, who potted 14 this year. Also doing the business for the transplanted North Shore boys are Pete Hannaway (9) and Zdravko Siklic (8), so Cowichan will have their hands full. The Islanders will look to counter with their tandem of George Thomas and Ben Williams, who each netted six goals for Cowichan this term. The VISL outfit will certainly be a tough group, especially with a bit of a chip on their shoulder from having to play in the opening round. However, I think Roma just really want this one, they want to prove that they can make a real charge at a title and put this new league on the map. That seeding really plays in their favour when they draw an Island team, as travel becomes a factor. It’s all lined up the way they planned for Roma, let’s see if they can execute now.
Saanich Fusion Old School (VISL) v ICSF Columbus (VMSL)
[Tyndall Turf, Victoria – Sunday April 30 – 4pm kick off]
Columbus offered a comprehensive account of themselves in their opener as they swatted aside the FVSL Masters Cup winners and league runners-up Surrey Temple 6-2 in their opening match. Now they face a tougher test, or so it would appear, in the form of a trip to VISL Champions Saanich Fusion Old School. Columbus boast a star studded roster, but will the likes of former EPL and MLS man Robert Earnshaw be on the team sheet this week? Certainly an undermanned side is the last thing one would want to take over to the Island, as one would assume that Saanich will be in a less than welcoming mood. Vladimir Music is the man who pulls the string (or perhaps strums them…?) for the Islanders, as he netted 9 goals for Old School this season. Given Columbus’s fire power, Saanich will certainly need to be capable of putting the ball in the back of the net if they want to advance from this one. Columbus, like Westside, should never be counted out. The travel factor, though, looms large in this one as you have to wonder if Columbus will be able to get their best 11 (or best 16 maybe? This is Masters after all…) to the Island this weekend. Even with a full squad for the Italians, I would still put Saanich in with a shout. Add in the commute, and I’ll tip Old School to teach Columbus a lesson (ok…no more puns).
Europa (BMSL) v PCOV (VMSL)
[Burnaby Lake West Field 3 – Sunday April 30 – 7.30pm kick off]
PCOV went past BMSL’s Burnaby Bulls at a walk in their opener, coming away 6-0 winners. Now it’s on to another BMSL side in Europa and, while the difficulty will no doubt be increased going from the fourth place team to the second place team, truthfully, the men from Portugal should have little trouble in this one either. Nick Augustine in the danger man for Europa, so perhaps a wonder-performance out of him could put the Burnaby lads into the Quarter Finals, but the odds are stacked against it. As long as PCOV are not too focused on bracketology and their potential path to the final, this one should not trouble them too much.
Richmond Old Blacks (RASA) v Delta United (FVSL)
[Minoru Oval, Richmond – Sunday April 30 – 8pm kick off]
The only seeded team in the bottom half of the draw, the Richmond Adult Soccer Association Champion Old Blacks welcome FVSL mid-tablers Delta in this tie. Delta had a less than impressive season, finishing sixth of eight out in the Valley, but got the job done over 120 minutes in their opener against UVic Alumni. United may have benefitted from home field advantage, with UVic having had to travel to the Mainland, but they won’t really be bothered with how they got through to the Round of 16, just that they got here. Truth be told, they will likely fancy their chances, needing to just nip through the tunnel to face a team from one of the, shall we say, adolescent leagues in the Province. Old Blacks, I’m sure, have their own ideas on how this one will play out and, after an undefeated season, certainly have no intention of tasting defeat at the first hurdle. Their name would indicate that there are alumni from the RASA’s First Division “All Blacks” and, thus, likely played a large hand in making that team three time Provincial B Cup Champions. It would be safe to assume that these guys know their way around a knockout competition. Old Blacks have the pedigree and the drive, plus the advantage of not having to play 120 minutes last week; I think they advance.