One of our favourite times of year in the footballing calendar gets underway this weekend, with action kicking off in all four BC Provincial Cups.
It’s a later start than in previous years due to the snow and unfortunately that means that instead of just one Finals Day this time, things will be spread out over two weekends in May.
First Round matches in the A Cup, Keith Millar B Cup, Doug Day U21 Cup, and the Deryl Hughes Masters Cup all get underway this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday across the lower mainland and on the island, and then each weekend thereafter for the next fee weeks.
The A Cup Final will kick off at 3pm at Burnaby Lake West on Sunday May 14th 2017, (which unfortunately clashes with a Whitecaps 2 match at UBC). The U21 Final will kick off at noon that day, with both Masters semi-finals and one B Cup semi also taking place that Sunday. The other B Cup semi-final takes place the day before, due to that competition having an extra round, when all the women’s finals are on.
The B Cup Final will now take place at noon on Sunday May 28th at Burnaby Lake, with the Masters final following at 3pm.
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 B Cup Preliminary Round matches.
MEN’S B KEITH MILLAR PROVINCIAL CUP – PRELIMINARY ROUND
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…;)
The Cup that nobody cares about…or that some people care about but others think should be a weekend tournament…or that some people wouldn’t go in if it was a weekend tournament…or that some people think means something but really it’s not even worth mentioning in the same breath as the A Cup.
Well whatever it is, here is my preview/predictions for Round 1.
FC Serbia United (VMSL) v Richmond All Blacks (RASA)
[Burnaby Lake West Field 1 – Friday April 21 – 9pm kick off]
Tough draw for the All Blacks, who won the Richmond Adult Soccer Association (RASA) League Cup, tied for the League Championship, and had the best goal difference in the league, but lost a Championship playoff to AC Richmond and, therefore, did not get seeded for the Provincial draw. Now they must play in the preliminary round. Their reward, if they should emerge victorious, being a trip to Nanaimo. As a further bonus, they drew FC Serbia for their preliminary match, who finished the Vancouver Metro Soccer League season on a 4-0 tear to qualify for Provincials, knocking off both VMSL B Cup finalists in Shaheen and NorVan plus Division Champions Burnaby Selects White Eagles. This one is the runner-up for Match of the Round and should be an absolute cracker. I think Serbia have every chance in the world to win this one, but I’ll take the All Blacks based on their stellar RASA campaign and their club’s pedigree as multi-time winners in this competition.
Gorge Utd (VISL) v Langley Dynamo (FVSL)
[Layritz Park, Victoria – Saturday April 22 – 1pm kick off]
This one projects out as a fairly even match up with, as usual, travel likely to play a part in the final outcome. The Dynamo lads are a veteran group with decent pedigree in the Fraser Valley Soccer League (FVSL), but what sort of crew will they be able to muster for a trip to Gorge? If they can get a decent squad they will have to fancy their chances against a Gorge team that failed to qualify for the competition via the league table, but knicked a spot based on their Cup Final appearance. This one could definitely go either way, so get your coin out and give it a toss. I’ll tip home field advantage to make the difference here though.
Gorge Us-Guys (VISL) v Vancouver Greencaps (VMSL)
[Hampton Park, Saanich – Saturday April 22 – 1pm kick off]
Greencaps quietly finished the VMSL campaign very strongly after seemingly falling out of the title/promotion race early in the campaign. The VMSL’s Division 2B was a host of heavy hitters, but Greencaps will finish no worse than third after not really being counted too seriously as a championship contender among NorVan, Shaheen, and White Eagles. The club seems to have regained the footing that it looked to have lost in recent campaigns that saw its billing as a “soon-to-be-Division-1” group downgraded to also-rans. With that in mind, they are no doubt quietly confident in their ability to overcome the travel factor and knock off a second place team in Gorge Us-Guys. They would do well to keep an eye on the Vancouver Island Soccer League’s (VISL) Division 3 joint leading goal scorers in Brendan Andrews and John Bakowski, who both netted an impressive 17 times in 16 games. Gorge has the fire power and the home field advantage, so they have to be favourites in this one. I like the odds on a Greencaps upset, though not enough to pick them to win (travel is a major deterrent IMHO), but keep an eye on this one if you are looking for a match to take in on the Island this weekend.
Fraser Valley Red Devils (FVSL) v Jugadores (RASA)
[MRC Field Complex Field 4, Abbotsford – Saturday April 22 – 6pm kick off]
Both of these teams went right to the wire to qualify for this tournament. Fraser Valley needed a win on the last day of league play to guarantee their place via the FVSL Divison 2 standings after failing to beat their lower league cousins the “Blue Devils” in the Presidents Cup Final. Jugadores finished fourth in the RASA and were forced to confirm their place via a playoff against fifth placed Rain City. Clearly each team is comfortable with a “win or go home” environment, but Red Devils seem like the pluckier of the two having reached a cup final and playing important games down the stretch in the league. Couple all that with a home draw and I’ll back the FV crew to move on to the next round.
Burnaby Selects White Eagles (VMSL) v Juan de Fuca (VISL)
[Burnaby Lake West Field 2 – Sunday April 22 – Kick off 4pm]
At the bottom of the draw, we find the Match of the Round. A cruel fate saw these two teams drawn together in the Preliminary Round after both winning their respective divisions. Unfortunately, their co-winners from their sister divisions had higher point totals and, thus, received a seeded berth along with safe passage to the next round and the guaranteed home game that accompanies such a seeding. Instead, these two will have to duke it out in the early stages, though the winner will no doubt fancy the draw ahead of them to a potential Semi-Final. One major hurdle for Juan de Fuca is the fact that they were the final team to come out of the hat. Therefore, they will be forced to travel in each subsequent rounds, should they progress. Travel, as I have mentioned previously, is so often a prohibitive factor in these competitions, though usually I would expect a first place team to be able to overcome this sort of hurdle. However, Juan de Fuca are travelling to play another first place team in Burnaby, so home field advantage should still hold significant weight here. White Eagles went 7-1-1 in the New Year to lock up the title and promotion to VMSL Division 1 next season and, with Juan de Fuca travelling, are the favourites in this one. Tough to lose a team of this calibre at this stage of the competition, but let’s hope this fixture lives up to its billing and whichever of these teams is eliminated goes down swinging.
Burnaby Gunners (BMSA) v 13th Legion (VMSL)
[Burnaby Lake West Field 3 – Sunday April 23 – Kick off 4.45pm]
The VMSL upstarts had an unbelievably strong season, leading the way in the division into the final month of the season. Nobody had predicted much from the traditionally mid-table Legion lads, but they seemed, for a time, poised to compete for a League/Cup double. Alas, they faded down the stretch and lost in a Cup Semi-Final before running into fixture congestion that saw them unable to charge down Burnaby Metro Athletic, who had overtaken them in the league during their extended cup run. What kind of appetite will the Legion have for the B Cup? Will they want to continue to prove that their impressive form this season should not be taken as a mere perfect storm of circumstances? Or will they be thoroughly gutted by being so close to glory, before coming away with nothing at all? Their opponents are the plucky runners up from the Burnaby Men’s Soccer Association (BMSA), led by leading goal scorer Michael Byrne. Despite strong opposition from a couple of BMSA teams, I think 13th Legion will fancy their chances of progressing to the Quarter Finals and having the chance to perhaps exorcise some demons against NorVan and Burnaby Metro.
Bacardi FC (BMSA) v Sarjevo FC (VMSL)
[Burnaby Lake West Field 3 – Sunday April 23 – Kick off 7.30pm]
Sarajevo are pinch hitting for VMSL Cup Finalists, and their Division 1 relegation cousins, Shaheen, who have opted out of the Provincial Cup after having won it back in 2011 when they were promoted to Division 1 of the VMSL. Neither Sarajevo nor Shaheen will be returning to Divison 1 next season, failing to achieve promotion at the first time of asking. Sarajevo may be here to make up the numbers, but they will fancy their draw against the BMSA’s fourth place finisher Bacardi FC. Bacardi FC too should arguably not be in the B Cup. Usually the fourth BMSA berth goes to the League Cup winner, but, due to the snow, the BMSA was unable to conclude that competition in time for Provincials. So it would appear that fate has chosen strange bedfellows in this fixture, drawing together two teams who, ostensibly, did not qualify for the tournament. Bacardi boast the Burnaby Men’s league’s joint top scorer in Jordan Marini and should pose a decent threat, but I’ll back Sarajevo to show their pedigree and advance from this one.
Langley Utd Sparta (FVSL) v West Coast (RASA)
[Willoughby Park Field, Langley – Sunday April 23 – Kick off 8pm]
It was a solid second place FVSL finish for Langley on the back of Golden Boot winner Shaun Patterson. They’ll host the third place team from Richmond’s Adult Soccer Association, West Coast FC. Not a ton to analyze in this one; Sparta are a veteran group and should see have enough to see off their challengers from below sea level, especially with a home draw.