It’s semi-final weekend in all of the 2018 Provincial Cups, and there’s some cracking matches in store.
We brought you our quarter-final recaps and semi-final previews of the B Cup yesterday, so here’s our previews of the semi-finals of the A Cup, Deryl Hughes Masters Cup, and Doug Day U21 Cup, courtesy of Canucks4Ever from the Take The Piss forum.
The first semi-final took place on Friday evening. Being on the road prevented the site being updated with a profile from Club Inter v Langley United last night, but the FVSL advanced with a 3-1 win over the defending A Cup champions and now aim to make history as they take on the winner of the tie below next Sunday at Swangard Stadium. We’ll have full coverage of this first semi-final on AFTN next week.
In the meantime, let’s look ahead to the other semi-final, which will take place in Duncan on Vancouver Island this Sunday afternoon.
Cowichan FC (VISL) v BCT Rovers Tigers United (VMSL)
[Sunday May 6 – Sherman Road Turf, Duncan – Kick off Noon]
It has been a tumultuous week for the VMSL Champions. After a dramatic 2-1 come from behind win for the second straight weekend, and this time over their local rivals Pegasus, Rovers found out that they were the subject of a protest regarding player eligibility. International Transfer Certificate, or ITC, issues were once more at the forefront as, after costing both Rino’s Tigers and Aldergrove United their places in the tournament, Pegasus pointed the target squarely at their local rivals.
The protest was ultimately unsuccessful, though BC Soccer’s interpretation of the rules certainly did not satisfy Pegasus. Nevertheless it will be Rovers travelling to the Island this weekend in their quest for the first Provincial title for this incarnation of the Rovers franchise; the Sapperton Rovers were champions in 2006 before heading down the path that would eventually lead them across the bridge to Surrey.
Having spotted their opponents the opener in both of their matches so far, Rovers have been rescued by their two talismen – Pavi Dhillon and former Toronto FC striker, Nick Soolsma. Dhillon and Soolsma have provided all the offense for Rovers and figure to be major factors again this weekend if Tigers are planning on playing for the Province’s top prize.
The VISL has been mostly left outside of the fire storm of ITC issues and protests that has enveloped the Mainland leagues. Their four time defending league champions, Cowichan FC, are back in the semi-finals for the first time since 2015. It is also a bounce back season for the VISL as a whole after winning only one game in this competition as a league last year. That being said, the draw was kind to the league, grouping three VISL sides together in the same quarter.
After consistently outperforming their Island rivals in recent campaigns, Cowichan have never been able to translate that into Provincial Cup success. Just three wins in three seasons and, indeed, their first round win over West Van was the first time they have beaten a VMSL team. Coach Glen Martin described West Van as the “highest ranked team” Cowichan have ever defeated and they followed that up with what one supposes would be considered a more “routine” win over domestic rivals Nanaimo.
Based on their own summation, if Cowichan are to progress they will need to conjure up the biggest win in their club’s history. They will have home field advantage and traditionally that has always helped Island teams. The VMSL are a different proposition though, they will be traveling to Duncan with a clear goal in mind. Assuming the back room issues have not affected the Surrey boys in their preparation, they should be well favoured in this one and they will know it.
The biggest difference in this one may be psychological between a team that is hoping to win against a team that is expecting to win. There should be a raucous, hostile environment for the Mainlanders, but I think they will rise to the occasion and book their spot for Swangard next weekend.
EDC Burnaby (VMSL) v Coquitlam Metro Ford PCE (VMSL)
[Saturday May 5 – Empire Turf South, Vancouver – Kick off 8pm]
It has been a decade of dominance for the VMSL in this competition. Not since 2008, when UVic Alumni won the trophy, have non-VMSL hands been lad on it and this semi-final ensures that the league will have at least one representative there to try and win it all again this season.
Coquitlam are two time defending Provincial Champions and Western National Champions. They were unable to defend their VMSL title this season, losing out to a very strong West Van side, but they put that right and had the last laugh in the previous round, heading to the North Shore and returning 3-1 winners.
EDC were busy dealing with UVic Alumni, though obviously not the same side as won the title back in ’08. The VMSL new boys dispatched their Island guests at a walk, cruising to a 4-0 win despite missing their underage players who are allowed in the VMSL but not on the Provincial stage. Chile wanted to make noise this season in the VMSL and they did so by winning the Masters Cup and proving they belong in a league full of the “old guard” mentality of the teams already at this level are the best, there’s no room for you, you will fail just as the other teams who came before you failed.
This has allowed Chile to play with a certain chip on their shoulder and boy are they putting it to good use now.
Coquitlam had the better of it in the first meeting between these two teams, winning 4-3. That was followed by a 1-1 draw and then by Chile winning 3-1 in the cup quarter-finals. Certainly then these teams will be confident of scoring goals; though Metro Ford are always confident in scoring when they have Golden Boot winner and 27 goal man Tiarnan King in their line-up. The “Old Wolves” are gaining momentum and must surely have that championship feeling back in the locker room.
Chile, on the other hand, are looking to once more upset the order of things and crash the Provincial party in their first season at this level. This game could go either way; Coquitlam obviously have the pedigree, having been here before, but EDC have the youth and you could easily see them running out 4-0 winners again. At this time of year though, experience seems to win the day, so I will give the most minuscule of edges to Coquitlam and say they keep the dream for the three-peat alive.
Westside FC (VMSL) v Temple Utd. (FVSL)
[Sunday May 6 – Empire Turf North – 1.30pm kick off]
After falling short of their own lofty expectations last season, Temple have taken a much quieter approach this year and it seems to have helped them reach the promised land. That being said, the draw has been kind as well, bringing them a team from the Island to Surrey in the first round and then serving up a domestic opponent in the quarter-finals.
A big 4-2 win over FVSL Champions Port Moody last weekend mean that it is up to Temple to fly the flag for the FVSL as their last representative standing in this competition.
It was a VMSL opponent in Columbus who decimated their cup dreams last year at the first hurdle, now, a year older and more experienced, they will face a VMSL side again for a chance to play for the title. Last year, after their loss. the VMSL was described as “a different animal’ and Temple will need to prove that they are capable of taming said beast.
Westside are the team that just will not got away. They are too old, they are too injured; but they couldn’t care less what the outside world thinks of them and their chances. This team has been here and done that, it is old, old hat for them now. They limped, literally, past a strong North Delta side from the Valley in their first game. It cost them their all-star goal keeper, but they were undeterred. They headed to the Island last week to face champions Cowichan in a hostile environment. Despite be under the cosh for good portions of the match, they found the only goal of the game.
Now, back home, they will look to head to the final for the umpteenth time as this group seeks a fourth championship at this level. Both these teams have great fan bases so expect a good crowd out for a big match at Empire. As for a winner, it is again, very fine margins. Temple will be fired up with a chance to make the final, but Westside are so experienced that they know exactly how to approach these types of matches. For me, it comes down to attrition and you have to think that the injuries will catch up to the Vancouver boys at some point. They have all the tools to win this game, but I think they just might run out of gas.
Abbotsford Storm (FVSL) v BCT Rovers United (VMSL)
[Sunday May 6 – Matsqui Recreation Centre, Abbotsford – Kick off Noon]
The Storm lay an absolute smack down on Chile last week, cruising to a 6-2 win in their first match in this competition. Rovers, EDC’s VMSL brothers, should arguably be a step down in quality. They finished only one place, but nine points back of Chile in the table.
Rovers have played a pair of Island teams to get here, with the VISL looking off the pace in the competition. All four of their teams failed to win a match and three of them lost at home where the Island has, traditionally, been able to get results. That includes their champions Mid Isle Mariners who were dispatched by Rovers last week 2-0.
Abbotsford were the FVSL champions and showed their credentials big time in their debut at this level. Can they keep it going? They managed to bottle up two of the VMSL’s top six goal scorers with Chile last week, but will now need to contend with the Golden Boot winner in Emmanuel Ekah. They boast their own Golden Boot winner in David Parfett, so there should be goals to go around in this one.
I have to say I like Abby in this one. After their first performance and the fact that they did the league/cup double in the Valley, I think they are favourites, not only in this game, but will surely have a good shot at the title next weekend.
West Van FC (VMSL) v Coquitlam Metro Ford Jr Wolves (VMSL)
[Sunday May 6 – Ambleside D, West Vancouver – Kick off 2.00pm]
Definitely the Match of the Round here as first plays second in the VMSL standings. It is also a meeting of the cup and league winners, West Van having won the knockout competition while CMF were league champions.
Just as they did in the VMSL U21 Cup Final, West Van dispatched the upstart Faly Academy by a two goal margin, after a half hour delay to start the match as BC Soccer had to confirm whether a West Van coach was able to be on the bench or not! The final was 3-1 this time and the North Shore boys have clearly proven that knockout football suits them.
West Van also knocked Metro Ford out of the cup, beating them in the semi-finals, a feat they will look to repeat at the same stage here in the Provincials.
The Tri Cities boys had the better of the league meetings though, winning both match ups by 2-1 scorelines. Metro Ford were kings of the league, but they finished their schedule in mid-January. Since the league has wrapped up, Coquitlam have been less than dominant. They narrowly got past sixth placed GN in the VMSL U21 Cup quarter-finals, winning 5-4 on aggregate over the two legs against an opponent who finished 16 points back of them in the table. They followed that up with their 1-0 loss to West Van in the semis on March 17 and then did not play again until last week.
In their first match of this competition they found a way win, but only beat a Westcoast team that finished a distant third place in the FVSL 2-0 at home. Hardly the calling card of a champion. West Van meanwhile did not miss a beat against a tough VMSL opponent and they seem to have the moxie for cup competitions along with a spring in the step. I think West Van will ride that momentum all the way to a date at Burnaby Lake for the final.
So that’s our previews all done and dusted. Get out and see some of the action this weekend if you can. If you can’t, we’ll have a recap and final preview for all four of the cups on AFTN next week.