Flair and flares see BB5 United and Croatia SC set up BC Provincial A Cup final showdown (with video highlights)

Flair and flares see BB5 United and Croatia SC set up BC Provincial A Cup final showdown (with video highlights)

The Vancouver Metro Soccer League (VMSL) stranglehold on the BC Provincial A Cup will continue for at least one more year after last weekend’s two semi-finals saw two of the top teams from the league advance to this year’s final.

VMSL teams have lifted the famous old trophy every year since 2011 and their dominance of the tournament will continue in 2023 with either back-to-back defending champions BB5 United CCB completing the threepeat or Croatia SC winning their third provincial championship and their first since 2016.

Both teams were made to work hard to battle through their respective semi-finals, with BB5 securing a narrow 1-0 victory on Friday evening and Croatia needing penalties the following night to book their berth and set up a rematch of this year’s VMSL Imperial Cup final.

With all the off the pitch drama surrounding FC Tigers expulsion from the competition over, the on-field action got back underway at Newton Athletic Park on Friday evening as VMSL Premier Division champions BB5 played host to the team that pushed them all the way to the title, Coquitlam Metro Ford Wolves.

The two regular season meetings between the sides had produced two cracking matches and a plethora of goal, with BB5 winning the season opening match 4-3 in September and the teams drawing 3-3 in their second meeting in November. While it wasn’t to be as high a scoring encounter this time around, it was another entertaining match nonetheless.

The closely contested affair saw both teams head in at halftime scoreless, but BB5 opened the scoring just two minutes after the restart when Nic Morello saw his shot from a tight angle saved by the Coquitlam keeper, but the rebound fell perfectly for his and he tucked it away to the far post to give the Surrey side the lead.

That lead was to last just eight minutes before Metro Ford got back on level terms when Justin Wallace rose superbly to head home a cross in from the left, setting up an exciting final 35 minutes.

Both teams pushed for the winner, and both had their chances to get it, but in the end it was Ivan Mejia capitalising on a poor headed clearance from a young Coquitlam defender that secured the win for BB5, drilling home the ball from 12 yards out and capping off a fantastic three days that had seen him score what proved to be the winner for TSS Rovers in their Canadian Championship win on the Wednesday and then the winner to send BB5 to another Provincial Cup final just 48 hours later.

You can see our highlights from the match HERE and in the video below:

Final berth booked, it was a case now of whether we’d see an all-VMSL final or a second straight VMSL versus FVSL match-up as Croatia SC took on Fraser Valley Soccer League runners-up Abbotsford United at a very wet and wild Burnaby Lake on Saturday evening.

It was your proverbial game of two halves, with Abbotsford having the better of the first half and creating a couple of great chances to take the lead, which they were unable to take. The second half saw a complete turnaround, with Croatia dominating the play and having several opportunities to break the deadlock, but their finish simply wasn’t there.

With the 90 minutes up and the teams still goalless, BC Soccer’s new no extra time rule saw the teams head straight to penalties for the first time in this year’s competition. And what a penalty shoot-out it proved to be.

Croatia were first up to the mark and drilled their opening spot kick straight down the middle. Abbotsford weren’t to be so fortunate and Croatia keeper Justyn Sandhu produced a great diving save to give the VMSL side the early advantage.

The next four kicks were all converted to give Croatia a 3-2 lead in the shootout after the first three rounds. Croatia then saw their next penalty saved, but the Abbotsford keeper was adjudged to have come off his line and the referee ordered the kick to be retaken. Choosing to go to the same side, this time the penalty crashed off the right post and Abbotsford were handed a lifeline that they took, levelling the shootout up at three apiece.

With both teams converting their final kicks off the initial five, we were heading to sudden death.

The next seven kicks were all tucked away before the decisive 18th kick of the shootout saw Sandhu produce another fantastic save to his left to turn the Abbotsford shooter away and give Croatia the victory 8-7 on penalties, sparking jubilation from the team and their supporters.

You can see our highlights from the match HERE and in the video below:

Another all-VMSL battle now awaits in the final, with BB5 United CCB and Croatia SC set to square of at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex at 7pm on Saturday evening.

BB5 will certainly head into the final as favourites, but it took a last ditch Matteo Polisi penalty to give them the 1-0 win over Croatia in last month’s Imperial Cup final. That game certainly wasn’t a classic and both sides will certainly hope to play a lot better with the provincial title on the line.

The biggest disappointment surrounding the final, however, is the timing of it, clashing as it does with the start of the new League1 BC season and decimating TSS Rovers’ team for their first game as defending champions as a result. A Sunday final would have avoided the clash and let players turn out for both their teams over the weekend. The game will also clash with a Vancouver Whitecaps home match, which if you’re trying to grow the game and get more eyes on the local teams, it’s very disappointing. Poor scheduling by BC Soccer that hopefully will be addressed for future finals.

Authored by: Michael McColl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.