(Graphic by @VictoriaGooner)
The BC Soccer Provincial A Cup kicks off for the first time since 2019 this weekend. Two years of Covid cancellations have deprived us of one of our favourite times in the local soccer calendar but the draw has certainly thrown up a mouthwatering set of games and potential matches to make up for it.
Sixteen sides from the top three amateur leagues in the province will battle it out for a place in the final at Swangard Stadium on May 15th, and while there are a couple of favourites and big hitters leading the way, you can be sure that there are more than a few teams that will fancy their chances of pulling off a shock or two along the way.
This year’s competition will see six teams taking part from the Vancouver Metro Soccer League (VMSL), including defending champions BB5 United CCB, and five apiece from the Fraser Valley Soccer League (FVSL) and the Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL).
We’ll have you fully covered, as always, along the way here at AFTN, with coverage from every round right through to the final, along with video highlights from selected matches on our YouTube channel.
To kick things off for this year’s competition, we’ll break down this weekend’s matches in the Round of 16, starting off with the top half of the draw, which looks to be the tougher of the two sides.
FC TIGERS (FVSL) v SURREY UNITED (FVSL)
Saturday April 23rd – Cloverdale Athletic Park – 4.00pm kick off
Disappointingly, there are five intra-league matchups in the first round, but that unfortunately is the luck of the draw and this all-FVSL tie looks like a very one-sided tie on paper as treble winners FC Tigers go up against a team that finished 44 points, and five places, behind them in the league standings.
FC Tigers are the top seeds in the top half of the draw, guaranteeing home field advantage in all rounds to the final. The Tigers are coming off a fantastic first season in the FVSL, winning the FVSL Premier Division title by 18 points from Abbotsford United and lifting both the Pakenham Cup and the Soccer City Premier Cup.
Led by former Whitecaps academy head coach Adam Day, who was an assistant with the Olympic gold medal winning Canadian women’s national team this past summer, the Tigers were the class act of the FVSL this past season and are one of the favourites to lift the Provincial Cup next month.
The Tigers’ goalscoring threat is clear to see, with the Golden Boot winning Farivar Torabi (pictured below) hitting 36 of their 99 Premier Division goals this season. Erik Edwardson was next with 19 and Ivan Mejia scored 10, both of whom you can see play for TSS Rovers in their inaugural L1BC campaign this summer.
They are also defensively tight, giving up only 15 goals in their 23 FVSL Premier matches and keeping 11 clean sheets, as they finished the season with a 21-1-1 record. Two of those clean sheets were against their first round opponents here, Surrey United, who they outscored 4-0, 2-0, and 5-1 in their three league games against them this past season.
Surrey United finished the season in sixth place in the FVSL Premier standings with a 6-2-15 record and 20 points from their 23 matches. They claimed the final FVSL spot in the Provincials after Vancouver Whitecaps U19s withdrew from the competition early in the season. Aryan Chauhan was their top scorer in the league with four goals, while Raq Amijee, Denis Ananga, Emanuel Ekeh, Mikael Mainella, and Josh Miles all hit three apiece.
This would be a massive cupset if Surrey were to get the win in this one, and it’s hard to see past Tigers as they chase the quadruple and aim to become the first FVSL winners of the competition.
NANAIMO UNITED (VISL) v VIC WEST (VISL)
Saturday April 23rd – Merle Logan Park, Nanaimo – 2.30pm kick off
Another intra-league battle sees an all-VISL clash as second placed Nanaimo United host third placed Vic West on Saturday.
The two Division 1 games between the teams this season saw Vic West just have the upper hand, drawing the first game in Nanaimo 3-3 and then winning the return in Victoria 1-0 in December.
Nanaimo finished the VISL season on 43 points, 12 behind champions Lakehill, with a 14-1-5 record from their 20 games. They were the joint second highest scorers in the league with 45 goals, five more than Vic West, with both teams having the third best defensive record in conceding 29. Vic West finished six points back of Nanaimo with a 11-4-5 record.
Former SFU man Colin Jacques led the scoring for Nanaimo with eight goals, with Caleb Nwameme one behind on seven, and Declan Brown and Daragh Fitzgerald both adding six apiece in league play. Aberdeen FC youth product Marcus Campanile led the scoring for Vic West, with the Scotland bagging 11 this season, while Salem Almardy scored eight goals and Andres Algarin next up on five.
This one is really too close to call, and whichever side wins it has the tough task of likely travelling to face FC Tigers in the quarter-finals. Nanaimo just lifted the Jackson Cup at the end of March with a 2-1 win over Bays United. They’ll have a spring in their step from that and that, along with home advantage, could see them take this one, possibly even after extra time. It’s going to close, no matter what.
LAKEHILL (VISL) v ABBOTSFORD UNITED (FVSL)
Sunday April 24th – Braefoot Park, Victoria – 12.00 noon kick off
Finally an inter-league battle! And it’s got the potential to be one of the ties of the round as VISL champs Lakehill take on FVSL runners-up Abbotsford United in Victoria on Sunday afternoon.
Lakehill had a fantastic league season, losing just one of their 20 games and finishing with an 18-1-1 record on their way to the Division 1 title. They finished 12 points clear of second placed Nanaimo United in the end, scoring 73 goals along the way and conceding 25.
Blair Sturrock was Lakehill’s dangerman, with the veteran taking home the VISL Golden Boot award for his 23 goals. The free-scoring VISL champs, who scored four or more goals in 12 of their 20 matches, had three players in the top six of the scoring charts with Craig Gorman hitting 15 and Jon Shah adding nine, so all three of them will be ones to watch in this year’s competition.
It’s always tough for the visitors making the trip across the Salish Sea in these matches and Abbotsford will have that against them, along with a vociferous home crowd, but this is a talented and experienced team that will be more than up for everything that Lakehill can throw at them.
Abbotsford finished second in the FVSL Premier standings, 18 points behind champions FC Tigers, and narrowly lost the Pakenham Cup 2-1 to the Tigers’ dramatic stoppage time winner.
Their league record of 15-1-7 saw them accrue 46 points, two ahead of third placed Vancouver Whitecaps U19s, scoring 75 goals and giving up 36. Connor Hildebrant led the team with 21 goals, placing him second in the FVSL Golden Boot race, while Daniel Davidson scored 12 goals and Colton O’Neill was one behind that.
Both teams can certainly score, but both can also be stingy at the other end of the pitch, with Lakehill keeping six clean sheets over the course of their league season and Abbotsford keeping their opponents off the scoresheet eight times.
This should be a very enjoyable game, but I have the island lads coming away with the narrow win here. It’s been 12 years since an Island team won the title, Gorge FC in 2010. Can Lakehill get the job done this year? They have a tough draw but they should make it interesting.
COQUITLAM METRO FORD WOLVES (VMSL) v INTER EDC (VMSL)
Friday April 22nd – Charles Best Turf, Coquitlam – 7.30pm kick off
The final tie in the top half of the draw is an all-VMSL affair in Coquitlam on Friday night and it should be a cracker.
Metro Ford and Inter finished the VMSL Premier season level on 36 points after their 22 matches, occupying 4th and 5th place in the standings and with identical 11-3-8 records. There is so little to choose between the two teams.
The two matches between the sides produced goals and two very different results, with Metro Ford heading to Burnaby Lake in October and coming away 5-2 winners, with Inter then going to Coquitlam in January and winning 3-0.
Both teams certainly have dangermen up front, with the talismanic Carlo Basso (pictured above) scoring 14 of Metro Ford’s 54 league goals this season, and Jovan Blagojevic and Juan Sanchez chipping in seven apiece. For Inter, Massud Habibullah is a real handful and led the team with 11 goals, nine in the league and two in the Imperial Cup. His partnership up front with Alan Camacho will certainly test the Wolves at the back.
This one will come down to which attack can get going better after a bit of a layoff. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this one went all the way to penalties, but I’m going for Metro Ford to just edge it in a high scoring affair. Whoever wins is certainly going to have another tough outing in the quarter-finals as they’ll travel to play the winner of Lakehill and Abbotsford United.
RINO’S VSC COASTAL (VMSL) v COWICHAN (VISL)
Saturday April 23rd – South Surrey Athletic Park – 4.00pm kick off
It’s a VMSL v VISL battle to kick off the bottom half of the draw.
Coastal made the move to the VMSL from the FVSL this season, merging with Rino’s to secure a top flight place, and they made the most of it with a strong season that saw them finish third in the standings.
Coastal were in the VMSL Premier championship picture for much of the season before finishing on 40 points with a 12-4-6 record, 12 points back from champions BB5 United in the end.
Jake Starheim led the scoring for the Surrey side, scoring 11 goals, a quarter of their tally of 44. Sean Northcote was next up on seven goals, with Isaac Kyei on six.
Cowichan come in to this one as heavy underdogs, having qualified for the provincials with a sixth placed finish in VISL Division 1, getting the nod after Victoria Highlanders withdrew to concentrate on their L1BC preparations.
Finishing 28 points back of champions Lakehill, Cowichan ended the season with a 8-3-9 record and 27 points, scoring 32 goals and giving up 40. Dan Citra and Jordan de Graaf were their highest scorers in the league with six goals each.
It’s hard to see past Coastal in this one, and they’ll be looking to make the most of their seeding that would them at home up until the final if they can advance through the rounds.
WEST VAN (VMSL) v BAYS UNITED (VISL)
Saturday April 23rd – Ambleside Park, West Vancouver – 3.00pm kick off
Another VMSL v VISL battle sees two teams that finished low in their league standings but runners-up in their cup competitions.
West Van really struggled to get their VMSL Premier season off and running, languishing midtable for most of the year and ending up with a 7th placed finish and a 10-2-10 record. Their 32 points total was 20 behind champs BB5 United, but they did knock them off in the Imperial Cup semi-finals before losing to VUFC Hibernian in the final.
Eoin McCormack led West Van in scoring with seven goals, followed by Aidan Izadi on six, and Bryce Millway on five, but giving goals up was also an issue for the side this season and they finished with a minus four goal differential, which will give the visitors some hope.
This will be another tricky trip for the islanders, who finished 5th in the VISL Division 1 standings and were runners-up in two cup finals. Their 9-4-7 record saw them finish the season on 31 points, 24 back of champions Lakehill, scoring 42 goals and conceding 39, so a positive goal difference shows they can certainly bring the goals and shut up shop when required.
The bulk of their goals came from the ever-dangerous Patrick Nelson, who finished second in the league Golden Boot with 21 goals and added another five in cup play. The assistant coach of the UVic Vikes will certainly be the man they need to get going if they are to pull off the upset win here.
West Van have to be the favourites in this one, as they look to set up an all-VMSL quarter-final with Coastal. But you never know, we may get a shock all-VISL matchup instead.
BB5 UNITED CCB (VMSL) v BCT ROVERS HURRICANES (VMSL)
Friday April 22nd – Newton Athletic Park Stadium, Surrey – 8.15pm kick off
Our match of the round takes place in Surrey on Friday night with a battle between the last two winners of the competition and local rivals.
BB5 United CCB are the defending champions, lifting the title on the island in 2019 and going on to win the national Challenge Trophy a few months later.
They’ll be looking to repeat after a fantastic season that saw them win the VMSL Premier title at a canter, losing just two games and finishing with a 16-4-2 record, winning the championship by 12 points from their closest competitors.
They also led the league in scoring with 64 goals, with Caleb Clarke and Nic Morello bagging 17 apiece. There’s goals throughout the team but Ted Hans’ side are also very stingy at the back, recording 11 clean sheets in their league campaign.
But they’re going up against the second highest scorers in the league in BCT Rovers Hurricanes who scored 56 goals despite finishing 6th in the standings on 34 points. That position is skewed however, as the Hurricanes were deducted three points at the start of the season for fielding an ineligible player and their 11-4-7 record would have been good enough for 4th.
Once again it was Nick Soolsma who was the main man for the Hurricanes, winning the Golden Boot with 27 goals, with a big fall down to the next scorer Brady Weir on six.
It’s the other end of the pitch that has been the issue for them, with just one clean sheet all season and that came in their penultimate match and they shipped five goals to BB5 in their two league meetings, a 2-2 draw in November and a 3-1 defeat in their last game of the season in March.
Hurricanes were the 2018 Provincial Cup champs and they’ll certainly be up for this one and the opportunity to knock off their local rivals. It’s hard to see past BB5 though and if they can finish their chances early, which surprisingly has been an issue for them after some dominant first half performances, they should get through this one by a couple of goals.
FC FALY (FVSL) v LANGLEY UNITED (FVSL)
Saturday April 23rd – Empire Fields, Vancouver – 8.00pm kick off
The second all-FVSL Premier matchup in the first round is a very interesting one with 4th placed FC Faly hosting Langley United at Empire, with the winner of this one travelling to play the winner of BB5 United CCB and BCT Rovers Hurricanes in the quarter-finals.
Just one point separated the two sides come the end of the FVSL season, with Faly finishing with a 10-2-11 record and 32 points, and Langley recording 8-7-8 for 31 points. Scoring-wise Faly notched 39 goals to Langley’s 37, with both teams conceding 50 goals. So very evenly matched and this game will be on a knife-edge and could be one of the ties of the round, but I have Faly as the slight favourites here, after a strong run in the Pakenham Cup saw them lose their semi-final with Abbotsford United in extra-time.
Faly have a number of dangerous attacking players with Athos De Siqueira, Anastazi Nahayo, and Sairoob Sairoob all hitting eight goals in their league campaign. For Langley Jonathan Craig led the team with nine goals, with Azad Palani scoring eight.
Faly are preparing for their first L1BC campaign where they’ll play as Altitude FC, so this is a great chance to get out and see some of the stars of that team before the season gets under way.
You can follow all the action here on AFTN and check out all the fixtures and results, across all of the BC Provincial Cups, on the BC Soccer website HERE.