Vancouver Metro Soccer League (VMSL) teams have been a dominant force in the BC Provincial A Cup in recent years. The last team to lift the famous trophy that wasn’t from the league were Gorge FC all the way back in 2010 and it was another strong showing from VMSL sides in the opening weekend of action in this year’s competition.
VMSL representatives make up half of the quarter-final line-up after the Round of 16 matches, but the Fraser Valley Soccer League (FVSL) have three teams in the last eight after some strong results of their own this past weekend. It was a tough couple of days for the five Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL) sides, however, with only champions Lakehill advancing and only two of their teams able to get on the scoreboard.
Before we get into how the action played out, here’s a summary of all of the Round of 16 results at a glance, in bracket order:
BB5 United CCB (VMSL) 11 – 0 Bays United (VISL)
SFC Pegasus Royals (FVSL) 0 – 3 Inter EDC (VMSL)
Lakehill (VISL) 5 – 1 West Van (VMSL)
Vic West (VISL) 0 – 2 Coquitlam Metro Ford Wolves (VMSL)
FC Tigers (FVSL) 4 – 0 Nanaimo United (VISL)
Gorge (VISL) 1 – 2 Croatia (VMSL)
Okanagan FC (PCSL) 1 – 5 Micro Footie (FVSL)
Langley United (FVSL) 0 – 2 Abbotsford United (FVSL)
The A Cup action kicked off with three matches on Saturday.
First up was a game on the island as VISL side Gorge FC played host to Croatia SC of the VMSL in a closely contested encounter which saw the Vancouver side run out 2-1 winners.
VMSL side Inter EDC headed to Newton Athletic Park in Surrey on Saturday evening and were made to battle against SFC Pegasus Royals at Newton Athletic Park before three second hand goals saw them come away with a hard fought 3-0 victory against the ten man home side.
The first game changing moment came in the 19th minute when the Royals saw their goalkeeper receive a straight red card for coming out and bringing down Massud Habibullah, who was in full flow as he headed to goal. There could have been no complaints, but as that keeper had only come on a few minutes earlier after an injury to the starting keeper, it took a lot of time to get another replacement keeper onto the pitch. Over five minutes in total, which contributed to the nine minutes of stoppage time added on.
Both teams had their chances to open the scoring in the first half, with the Royals not looking like a team down a man and putting in a gutsy performance.
That continued in the second half and they could have taken the lead in the 53rd minute after a quick free quick nearly caught Inter out, but the VMSL got their breakthrough when Neto Arteaga acrobatically fired home in the 58th minute in the second phase of a corner. After that, there was no looking back for Inter.
Three minutes later, Habibullah doubled Inter’s lead with a great solo goal and Nic Apostol put the icing on the cake for the VMSL side two minutes into stoppage time.
The scoreline makes it look more comfortable for Inter than it was and SFC Pegasus Royals (also known as Ares Academy) deserve a lot of credit for their efforts and battling performance, in what was a very chippy affair at times, with a few cynical tackles flying in.
You can watch the match in full below:
With one FVSL team out, another was set to fall as league rivals Langley United and Abbotsord United squared off at Willoughby Community Park. In the end it was FVSL runners-up Abbotsford who triumphed 2-0 in a match that went down to the wire.
Parmin Minhas broke the deadlock for Abbotsford around 30 minutes into the first half with a nice solo run down the right wing cutting onto his left at the top of the box and slotting a low shot off the near post and in.
Langley weren’t going to go down without a fight and this is how the score stayed until two minutes into second half stoppage time. Langley threw everyone forward to try and find the late leveler to send the game to penalties. This naturally left them short at the back and Tyson Hunter did well to intercept and ride a few challenges before spraying a ball out wide to Brady Weir who dribbled passed a few scrambling Langley defenders and finished one off far post 12 yards out to seal the 2-0 victory.
It was a busy Sunday with five matches on the slate, two on the island, two in Surrey, and one in the interior, and what a goalfest those matches produced.
The last two A Cup finals (in 2019 and 2022) have seen a battle between BB5 United and FC Tigers, with a fierce local rivalry growing between the two league champions and both teams kicked off their 2023 cup campaigns in Surrey on Sunday afternoon.
FVSL league and cup winners FC Tigers played host to VISL side Nanaimo United at Hjorth Park, turning in a commanding performance on their way to a 4-0 victory. Former FC Edmonton midfielder Antony Caceres hit a brace for the Tigers with Taha Ilyass and Croatian striker Stjepan Olujic grabbing one apiece.
With the team on opposite sides of the bracket, could we be seeing a third straight BB5-Tigers Provincial A Cup final? Back-to-back provincial champs BB5 United got their defence of the title off to an absolutely stunning start, thrashing VISL side Bays United 11-0 at Newton Athletic Park on Sunday afternoon.
Connor MacMillan started the rout three minutes in, before a brace from Matteo Polisi made it 3-0 by the 12th minute. It didn’t get much better for Bays after that, as BB5 didn’t take their foot off the gas.
Mamadi Camara made it four in the 23rd, before Polisi completed his hat-trick just past the half hour mark. A second from Camara in the 36th and a second for MacMillan a minute before half time had BB5 in seventh heaven at the break.
BB5 kept going in the second after making a string of subs at the half. That was to be no respite for Bays, as one of them was VMSL Golden Boot winner Farivar Torabi, who started off the second half scoring in the 56th minute. Dilraj Dhaliwal made it nine in the 63rd minute before goals from Ivan Mejia and Riley Pang rounded off the scoring for an incredible 11-0 victory, that could have been even more if not for offsides and poor finishing.
It was some match, some performance, and you can see our highlights video of the game below, unless you’re a Bays player or supporter, in which case you may not want to watch:
The island played host to two Round of 16 matches on Sunday and first up was VISL Jackson Cup winners Vic West taking on Coquitlam Metro Ford Wolves in Sooke, with the VMSl runners-up coming away 2-0 victors setting up another return to the island a fortnight later.
That return trip will see them take on VISL champions Lakehill, who hit West Van of the VMSL for five in a dominant 5-1 victory at Starlight Stadium in Langford. Blair Sturrock, Isaac Koch, Paddy Nelson, Jack Hill, and Tory Barbon were on the scoresheet for the islanders.
The final A Cup action of the opening weekend came at King’s Park in Penticton, with the Pacific Coast League (PCSL) champions getting a spot back in the tournament at the expense of one of the VMSL’s spots. And it didn’t end well for PCSL side Okanagan FC, who were on the wrong end of a 5-1 shellacking from FVSL side Micro Footie.
The teams were tied at one apiece at the break, but Micro Footie took the lead early in the second half and didn’t look back to come away with a famous victory for the 5th placed FVSL side.
Not taking anything away from Micro Footie, but BC Soccer really need to reevaluate giving the PCSL a spot back in the A Cup. With their season not getting underway until May, the B Cup would make a lot more sense, with the Richmond Adult Soccer Association (RASA) more deserving of that A Cup spot.
A lot of fantastic action over the weekend in the A Cup, all of which sets up the following interesting quarter-final ties on the weekend of April 15 and 16:
BB5 United CCB (VMSL) vs Inter EDC (VMSL)
Lakehill (VISL) vs Coquitlam Metro Ford Wolves (VMSL)
FC Tigers (FVSL) vs Croatia SC (VMSL)
Micro Footie (FVSL) vs Abbotsford United (FVSL)
So at least one side from the VMSL and the FVSL are guaranteed a semi-final spot. Should be four cracking ties.