For the second time in three years, the Senior boys soccer team has captured the B.C. AA title.
Starting as the 12th seed, based on a slightly disappointing third-place finish in the Island qualifier, SMUS ended up in the “Pool of Death” with provincial favourite Archbishop Carney in addition to John Oliver and Sutherland.
The opener against John Oliver was a rematch from the 2015 championship, when a 2-2 draw ended up proving costly to SMUS in a three team tie break situation. This time around, a composed finish from Finn Goodyear in the 33rd minute proved sufficient, with an insurance marker from Dennis Siegrist confirming a 2-0 victory.
The highly anticipated afternoon match-up versus No. 1 seed Archbishop Carney did not disappoint. In an intense, physical battle, the Stars pressed forward and controlled the majority of the possession. But a rock-solid defence, anchored by Jon Sudul and Ben Keep, and backstopped by goalie Jasper Bosley, remained air-tight and limited any real scoring chances. A long-range, mid-first half Siegrist rocket then crashed against the crossbar, from where an alert Jamison Schulz-Franco nodded home the rebound, the lone goal in the game.
The following morning, with the rain pelting down and temperatures plummeting, the team geared up for its last pool game against Sutherland. While a win or draw would see SMUS through to the tournament Final Four, the Sabres provided a rude awakening when taking the lead after only 40 seconds. However, SMUS soon pulled even courtesy of Ben Wingert, with the midfielder then registering his brace in a hard-fought 2-1 win.
These pool results produced a semifinal against Okanagan champion WL Seaton. In what finished an unexpectedly easy 4-0 triumph, Donovan Sturdy started proceedings by scoring an impressive solo run and strike from the top of the penalty area. Three second-half goals, with Peter Koltronis to the fore, ensured that SMUS would move on to the final.
In the championship match against Bodwell, SMUS controlled the play in the first half and was unlucky not to score when a labelled Siegrist blast flattened a defender on the goal line with the keeper cleanly beaten. Still, eight minutes after intermission, the West Vancouver side took the lead via a well-directed header from a corner kick.
The Blue Jags struggled to respond immediately, but, with eight minutes remaining, struck on the counterattack. Clever passing sprung Harry Shaw, with the striker finishing coolly to level the contest. Clearly rejuvenated, SMUS pressed back immediately on the attack, with Shaw flashing on to a Wingert cross three minutes from time for the game winner.
The AA Provincial Championship trophy and banner reflected a total group effort, with the team’s skill, grit and determination obvious throughout five tough matches. Bosley was named top goalkeeper, while Siegrist was selected as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.