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2022 BC Mens Provincial A Cup - Draw, Predictions, Results & Banter

Canucks4Ever

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So Provincial Cup is back - Draw April 3.

Qualified teams:

VMSL
BB5 (seeded)
Coastal
Metro Ford
Inter
Rovers Hurricanes

FVSL
Tigers (seeded)
Abbotsford
Langley
Faly

VISL
Lakehill (seeded)
Nanaimo
Vic West

In the hunt:

VMSL (1)
Croatia
West Van

Thanks to VUFC (aka UBC) opting out Croatia is back in with a chance. West Van can claim the final spot by winning their Imperial Cup semi-final match against BB5 Mar. 19, which would be no small task. Otherwise it will come down to who finishes highest in the table. The teams are currently level with Croatia having two matches left to West Van's three. Of course, if they wind up even in the standings, this will go to a one game playoff.

FVSL (1)
Surrey Utd. A
Micro Footie
Surrey Royals
FCT Academy(?)
Surrey Utd. B

This list will get paired down after this weekend's Pak Cup semis. The four league places are spoken for (I think - there was a game between Surrey United and Faly that was abandoned due to snow with less than ten minutes to go a couple Wednesdays back. Faly were up 3-1 at the time. If that game were to be completed and SU pulled off a comeback the math would change, but the points appear to be showing in the league standings already, so odds are the result will stand and that is enough to qualify Faly in fifth).

The lone spot left goes to the Pak Cup winner. Assuming Tigers win that, the way they have won everything else so far this season in the Valley, the spot will trickle down to sixth place in the table (as Whitecaps have opted out). Surrey United have a three point lead on MFA and hold the tiebreaker (head to head). MFA have two games to play to Surrey's one.

As for the Pak Cup bracket - Surrey play Abbotsford with the winner getting the winner of Tiger vs. MFA. The other side of the bracket, though, has Surrey Royals (Douglas) against Surrey United B and FCT Academy against Faly. Faly is the only team on that side already qualified. So if any of the other three make it to the final, they will have a shot at a Provincial Cup spot. Of course, there are question marks surrounding whether or not FCT Academy would be allowed to participate if they should end up being the cup winners given their murky player registration situation.

VISL (2)
Highlanders
Bays Utd.
Cowichan
Gorge

This all comes down to the Jackson Cup as the league placings are set. Unfortunately for Highlanders (assuming they are participating in Provincials unlike some of their L1BC contemporaries...) the goal they gave up in a 2-1 win over Vic West sees them lose the tiebreaker between those sides and puts Vic West into the tournament, while Highlanders will have to wait. Bays, Cowichan and Gorge all need to make the cup final to get a spot - which sets up a compelling semi between Bays and Cowichan which essentially doubles as a Provincial Cup play-in game. As a result of one of Bays or Cowichan definitely getting in, Highlanders, who are out of the Jackson Cup, need Nanaimo to make the final at the expense of Gorge to get a spot in BCs.
 

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Trollups in and Croats out now I think with WV upset win in Imperial Cup semis
 

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Heads up that draw (for all comps) is 2PM Sunday. Not readily apparent if going to be streamed or not... but apparently being held at Fraser Mills Tap House. Is that in Port Moody?
 

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Yes in PoMo.

Yes being streamed, but not sure the details. Perhaps BC Soccer Facebook like the last Provincial Finals?
 

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Fcuking chuckles on the mike :rolleyes:

Episode 19 Laughing GIF by The Simpsons
 

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Top Half

FC Tigers (FVSL) vs Surrey United (FVSL)
Nanaimo United (VISL) vs Vic West (VISL)
Lakehill (VISL) vs Abbotsford (FVSL)
MetroFord (VMSL) vs Chinter (VMSL)

Bottom Half

Coastal (VMSL) vs Cowichan (VISL)
Trollups (VMSL) vs Bays United (VISL)
BB5 (VMSL) vs Sapperton (VMSL)
FC Faly (FVSL) vs Langley (FVSL)
 

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Faly vs Langley.......fack me
On paper super evenly matched up, but a couple of punching bags for any team waiting for the winner.

When does the schedule come out?

Reasonable hope that a FVSL comes out of the top, but whoever takes the CMF vs. Inter match has to be considered the favorite. Don't care how many goals Tigers scored in the FVSL. When you spend half the season playing squads that'd barely survive in Div. 1, it's hard to be prepared for this competition.
 

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Dunno when the actual schedule will come out but first round in this competition is on the weekend of April 22nd – 24th. Then games every weekend until the final at Swangard May 15th.

I would imagine, dates, times, and locations will start to trickle out this week and next.
 

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Round of 16 Schedule

Friday April 22

MetroFord (VMSL) vs Chinter (VMSL) 7:30PM KO @ Charles Best
BB5 (VMSL) vs Sapperton (VMSL) 8:15PM KO @ Newton Athletic Park

Saturday April 23
Nanaimo (VISL) vs Vic West (VISL) 2:30PM KO @ Beban Park
Trollups (VMSL) vs Bays United (VISL) 3:00PM KO @ Ambleside
Coastal (VMSL) vs Cowichan (VISL) 4:00PM KO @ South Surrey Athletic Park
FC Tigers (FVSL) vs Slurrey United (FVSL) 4:00PM KO @ Cloverdale Athletic Park
FC Faly (FVSL) vs Langley United (FVSL) 8:00PM KO @ Empire Fields

Sunday April 24

Lakehill (VISL) vs Abbotsford (FVSL) 12:00PM KO @ Braefoot Park
 

Canucks4Ever

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It is go time in the Men's A Cup after two years away thanks to the pandemic. The timing of Easter made us wait even longer, but the first round is finally upon us. To be honest, the draw failed to deliver any really intriguing storylines - particularly as it pertains to FC Tigers, the runaway FVSL Champions. Their acrimonious history with the VMSL has been bubbling under the surface all season, but the earliest they can meet a team from that league would be the semis. Not that they will be complaining, as they were given about as easy a draw as a team can get this time of year. In fact, the FVSL and VISL have to both like their draws, while the VMSL is once again likely fuming about the fact that there is no rule against playing a team from your own league in the opening round...

Completely Baseless Predictions - Men's A Cup Round of 16

FC Tigers Vancouver (FVSL) v Surrey United (FVSL)
This is honestly about as close to a bye in the opening round as Tigers can get. With due respect to everything that Surrey United once was as a club in the context of soccer in British Columbia, they are simply not on that level any longer when it comes to their men's adult program. Flat out, Surrey should not be in this competition this season and, honestly, it would not come as a total shock if they were to forfeit this game altogether. Now, presumably that will not happen, because surely Surrey as a club, and as representatives of the FVSL, have too much respect for this competition to do that, but motivation is going to be difficult to find for this group.

To say they have ostensibly no chance in this match is likely accurate. First of all, they are only in this competition because Whitecaps U19 declined to enter (which was part of a larger overall issue that saw one otherwise qualified team from each of the three leagues opt out...). They were beaten handily in all four meetings they had with Tigers this season by an aggregate score of 17-2, with their best outing a 2-0 defeat in league play which came in mid-December a few days after they were shelled 6-1 by Tigers in the Soccer City Cup semi-finals. Which is an interesting case study in itself. Surrey actually began the season rather brightly, picking up a pair of draws, including one against a good Abbotsford side, and a win over rivals Langley, which was enough to progress them past the group stage of the Soccer City Cup.

The long Covid offseason had brought about a change in leadership for SU, with Brock Fraser merging his Surrey Red Bulls side into the first team at United. While they may not have been a top team, this did ensure the addition of a stable of decent premier quality players, including goalkeeper Cam Frost, hulking defender Brandon Nair as well as the dynamic attacking of Emmanuel Ekeh, who was one player who had proven he did have the maverick qualities needed to potentially change a game on his own at the top level. Surrey won three of four matches to begin the season proper and looked to be well on their way to being more than relevant at the top level.

Then the wheels seemed to come off. They won just one of their next eleven matches in all competitions through the end of January, dragging them into as much of a relegation battles as one can find in the FVSL's top division. In the end, they did enough to finish sixth out of the eight teams that played the full season with a rather unimpressive record of six wins, two draws and fifteen losses, while conceding 70 goals against and winding up with a -27 goal difference for the year. The team limped to the finish line, losing six of their last seven matches, including their final two games of the campaign which featured an 11-0 drubbing at the hands of Abbotsford in the Pakenham Cup and an 8-0 thrashing by Whitecaps to end the league schedule. Somewhere in the midst of all of this, long time coach Rob Wilson, as well as manager Tom Duncan, both left the team. Not exactly painting a picture of side that is ready to defy the odds.

It has been over a month since Surrey last played. They are registered for the FVSL's spring league, though, so perhaps they have been training. One possible microscopic sliver of hope is that their best player, Emmanuel Ekeh, seemed to go missing this season after the start of October. Whether that was through injury or some other absence is not known, but it seemed to coincide with United's nosedive in form after a strong start. He resurfaced at the beginning of March, so if he is available maybe Tigers do not see him coming.

That said, Tigers are an absolute force. They had their own Covid offseason fireworks, falling out with Rino's after their "Rino's Tigers" iteration was awarded the VMSL Premier Division title based on points per game when the pandemic cut the 2019-20 season short. After that blew up, there was a short lived partnership with Burnaby's Metro Athletic that saw the Tigers program move there for the handful of matches that were played in the fall of 2020 and they were looking good to win their "Cohort Cup" before that was all halted. Things did not last at Metro Athletic and a behind the scenes power struggle with the VMSL and Rino's ultimately left Tigers, and their enigmatic owner Dr. Mohammed Abu Aish, without a spot in the Premier Division heading into 2021-22.

Enter the FVSL, and these once arch enemies, who famously duked it out in the 2017-18 Provincial Cup over player registration violations pertaining to International Transfer Certificates, became odd bedfellows. Tigers romped the FVSL, winning the league going away and adding both the Pakenham Cup and the Soccer City Cup to their trophy cabinet. After the guts of this team lost the 2019 Provincial Final to CBB (now BB5), they have reloaded and are back in a big way with the sole goal of bring the FVSL their first ever BC Soccer Men's Provincial A Cup.

The weapons are almost too many to mention for Tigers. Captain Farivar Torabi followed up winning the VMSL Golden Boot in 2020 by running away with the FVSL's goal scoring race in 2022, tallying 36 goals in 23 games, 15 more than his closest competitor. His right hand man, Erik Edwardson scored 19 goals and the recent return of Connor MacMillan to the fold makes for an almost unstoppable three-headed monster in attack. In the midfield, Ivan Mejia has been the conductor all season, and he also chipped in with ten league goals out of the 99 Tigers scored as a team during the campaign. They lost only once across all competitions and were held to a draw once as well. Goalkeeper Lukas Strauts recorded a league best ten clean sheets.

There is always a chance that something weird happens in a single knockout competition, so maybe somehow Surrey stuns Tigers. It would be just this side of unfathomable, however. Tigers have to love this draw with an almost free pass to begin and then a match up against a team that will travel from the Island. Anything short of a semi-final appearance for the FVSL's top team would have to be considered a massive underachievement.

Nanaimo United FC (VISL) v Vic West FC (VISL)
The Provincial Cup has not been kind in recent editions to the VISL. Their record against non-Island teams has been abysmal, with just three wins in the last three tournaments, all of which came on the Island. Cowichan beat West Van in the first round in 2019, they beat Coastal in the quarters in 2018 and Vic West beat Abbotsford at home in 2017. In 2016 no Island teams beat Mainland teams and in both 2016 and 2017 all the VISL teams were out after the quarter-finals. Cowichan made the semi-finals in both 2018 and 2019 but, as mentioned, they only had to be one Mainland team to get there and both of those wins came at home.

Fortunately for both Nanaimo and Vic West, whichever team that advances can worry about how they try to be a Mainland team in the next round. For now, it is a VISL rivalry showdown between the second and third placed sides from this season. Nanaimo finished in second, twelve points off the pace, but still six points up on Vic West. They also defended their Jackson Cup title after a two year wait thanks to Covid. Nanaimo also won the McGavin Cup this season as well, the VISL's open trophy that sees teams from several divisions compete in September, knocking off Bays United in both finals.

More impressive, though, may have been their quarter-final win over VISL Champions, Lakehill. It was one of Lakehill's two losses across all competitions this season, their other loss was also at the hands of Nanaimo in the league in December. Clearly Nanaimo know how to play in the big games and tournament football suits them. None of Nanaimo's stats particularly jump off the page. Their goals for and against are in line with the other teams around them at the top of the table, and they do not have any main individual threats. They are led by longtime Nanaimo stalwart Darah Fitzgerald, who has been with the club for a number of years and scored seven goals this season. Meanwhile, their leading scorer, with eight on the year, was form Croatia SC star Colin Jacques. Strong performances by those two, as well as goalkeeper Geoff Hackett, who had four clean sheets this season, will be key to any success Nanaimo may have in this tournament.

For Vic West, their season was fairly comparable to Nanaimo's, the difference in points comes down to Vic having three more draws instead of wins as compared to Nanaimo. One of those draws was a very compelling early season trip up Island to play Nanaimo, a match that ended 3-3 back in the second week of the season. The return fixture saw the Victoria boys actually edge their up-Island rivals 1-0 and hand Nanaimo one of their five losses on the season. When it comes to individual stats, Marcus Campanile led the way with eleven goals this season for Vic West. Intriguingly, the Victoria boys had three different goalkeepers record a pair of clean sheets this season in Maxwell Gil, Cameron Griffin and Daniel Young-Mercer. So goalkeeping is either an area of incredible depth for them, or it is a problem with no clear number one.

So, the teams looked very well-matched and it is always tough to predict a winner in these internal "domestic" league battles. Vic West look to be a younger team, returning to the competition after the club missed the last edition in 2019. That may well give the edge to a Nanaimo side, playing at home, with one or two veteran players who know how to get it done at this time of the season. Either way, it should be one of the more compelling ties of the opening round!

Lakehill FC (VISL) v Abbotsford United (FVSL)
Speaking of the VISL, their champions, Lakehill, will have a chance to throw down a marker against FVSL runners up Abbotsford. Abby must surely feel like the forgotten child out in the Valley. Covid stuck at a terrible time for a side that was in their prime. Their University of the Fraser Valley connections were creating a reliable pipeline of talent and they had just won the FVSL title while preparing to defend their Pakenham Cup crown. Then the pandemic hit and derailed what must surely have felt like their best chance to take a shot at the Provincial crown.

Since then, the Fraser Valley's top flight has undergone an overhaul and now features a number of young sides who are looking to build for the future, as well as a powerhouse Tigers side. Even Surrey and Langley, Abbotsford's long time FVSL foundational cohorts, are in rebuilding mode. Meanwhile, Tigers came in and rolled the league, winning everything in sight and stealing Abby's position as the league's golden child in the process. Add to that a flood in the fall that derailed United season, leaving them with an incredibly compact schedule. and you have to assume that United are not exactly feeling the love so to speak as they head into Provincials.

While their UFV connections seemed to have waned somewhat this season, and the loss of head coach Alan Alderson, who was a heart and soul contributor to the program, really hurt Abbotsford. Still, the additional of perennial FVSL All-Star Connor Hildebrant to the fold provided a spark for the offense, and he came as advertised, scoring 21 goals in 23 games. Former VMSL Golden Boot winner with Croatia SC, Daniel Davidson, was also a regular contributor, and long time Abby stalwarts Connor and Colton O'Neil remained key parts of the program. Veteran goalkeeper Mike Haladin was back between the sticks and it all added up to a decent second place finish in the league table.

However, at every turn there was Tigers. Abby went 0 for 4 against them, with their three league losses accounting for the 18 point difference between the two sides in the table. United's best performance, though, came in the Pakenham Cup final, where the match seemed certain to be headed for extra time until an injury time winner for Tigers gave them that trophy as well. Still, perhaps that performance will be enough to give Abbotsford a platform to build on heading into this tournament.

The Valley boys have been handed a tough task, though, as they must travel to the Island to take on a Lakehill side that had a Tigers-esque performance of their own this season, bossing the VISL from start to finish. Lakehill did not lose a game until December and had the league title wrapped up by the first weekend in February. They only dropped four points all season, although they likely would have been slightly irked when their shot at the league and cup double was abruptly halted by Nanaimo in the Jackson Cup quarters. In fact, Nanaimo was responsible for both of Lakehill's losses this season and the Victoria based side will be keen to ensure that Abbotsford does not add their name to that list this weekend.

Back in 2019 Lakehill were the new kids on the block. A bunch of young, talented players had come together to vault Lakehill towards the top of the VISL's top flight and a third place finish saw them book a spot in the Provincial Cup. However, they were knocked off at home by a motivated Coastal side that showed plenty of veteran savvy in coming to the Island to pick up a win. Lakehill have had the better part of three years to ruminate on that loss, all the while continuing to improve. They won the VISL's Garrison Cup as league champions in 2020, but the pandemic denied them a chance to flex their muscles in the Provincial Cup. Now, after an even more dominant run to the VISL title, they finally get their chance.

Blair Sturrock and Craig Gorman are the dynamic attacking duo for Lakehill. Sturrock won the Golden Boot, scoring 23 goals in 20 games, while Gorman chipped in a further 15. All this helped Lakehill put up an impressive, division leading 73 goals for. One area where Lakehill do differ from their fellow champions, though, is their goals against. They did lead the division in conceding only 25 goals, and goalkeeper Hardeep Gahunia won the Golden Glove with five shutouts, but it means they averaged 1.67 goals against in games where they did concede.

Perhaps that can be a glimmer of hope for Abbotsford, who do have attacking weapons. Unfortunately for them, Lakehill are more than capable of scoring their way out of any trouble. Given they have spent three years waiting for another shot at the Provincial Cup, one has to think Lakehill are primed to make a run.

Coquitlam Metro Ford Wolves (VMSL) v Club Inter (VMSL)
Complete toss up in this all-VMSL match between two clubs that, obviously, know each other inside and out. Both have recently supplanted an aging core with some young, exciting talent and both will be unhappy to have drawn each other in the first round. There is practically nothing between these two sides as they both finished on 36 points with identical 11-3-8 records. Both conceded 33 goals, though the one notable difference was Coquitlam's goals for, as they found the net 54 times compared to just 38 for Inter.

That offensive output stems from Metro Ford's strong start to the season, as they won six of their first seven matches, scoring 24 goals over that stretch, which included a 5-2 win over Inter in October. Coquitlam looked to be right in the title race, but as the calendar turned to November, they were unable to maintain their hot start. Their form was average, and included a 3-0 loss to Inter in the return fixture. Still, it was a return to form, somewhat, for a club that had spent the last few seasons proper in a bit of a rebuild. Wolves comfortably qualified for Provincials after, almost unthinkably, missing out altogether on the 2018 edition, before eking into 2019 competition and looking as though it would come down to the wire for 2020 before that tournament was nixed.

To the surprise of no one, longtime talisman Carlo Basso remains the focal point for Coquitlam. Like the team overall, Basso had somewhat of a renaissance this season, clattering in 14 goals and generally being miserable for opposition defenders to mark. He has support in the form of Jovan Blagojevic and Juan Sanchez, who both contributed seven goals to the cause this season, but their work in transition both offensively and defensively has been a large factor in CMF's resurgence as a power. Veteran goalkeeper Dillan Fogliato still patrols the sticks and is part of an older core of Metro Ford players who have unfinished business in this tournament after failing to win it back when Coquitlam were perennial VMSL title contenders.

Inter were not nearly as dominant as Coquitlam to begin the season, but, as there record proves, there is more than one way to amass the points needed to qualify for the Provincial Cup. While their form was decent most of the season, save for a blip in October where they went winless through four matches picking up just a lone point, Inter got in largely based on a run of five straight wins to close out 2021 and begin 2022. The uptick in form coincided with an offensive explosion by leading scorer Massud Habibullah, who scored five of his nine goals on the season in Inter's four wins to begin the New Year. Inter continue to rely on veteran Alex Marello for his leadership as well as his offense, and he chipped in with half a dozen markers throughout the campaign. Youngster Andres Mauricio Rojas Rodriguez also cemented a place on the first team this season by scoring five times.

As noted, unlike their first round opponents, Inter did not build their success this season around goals scored. Rather, they showed an ability to win tight games, with goalkeepers Justin Baarts and Chris Zimmermann combining for six clean sheets. Six of Inter's eleven wins were by just a single goal, and they only managed to collect maximum points when conceding more than one goal in a game on two occasions. So, it would appear that keeping things close is Inter's style these days. Conversely, Coquitlam only one twice by a single goal, while losing by that margin four times. It stands to reason that if Metro Ford can make it an offensive arms race, they should have enough to come out on top. However, cup ties are generally close run, cagey affairs and that looks to maybe hand Inter the slightest of advantages.
 

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Rino's VSC Coastal (VMSL) v Cowichan FC (VISL)
Representing the other side of the offseason league merry-go-round drama are Rino's Coastal. Really though, they are essentially just Coastal as they were in the FVSL pre-pandemic. Getting back to the VMSL after having already left the FVSL and returned once before was no simple task for this group. Last time around they hopped into the VMSL the "conventional" way, by "merging" with a Vancouver Olympics team that was folding after relegation from Premier. That season was somewhat eye-opening for what was then a North Delta side coming off the back of a Provincial Cup semi-final appearance.

The story of what happened next has been well documented. After failing to waltz to promotion as they had expected, North Delta came up short on the final day of the season, leaving them in third place in VMSL Division 1 and staring another season at the lower level square in the eyes. Fortunately for them, Surrey United packed up their camp and headed back to the FVSL, creating a vacancy in Premier that North Delta filled. It was a disaster, though, as they were well of the pace and finished dead last. Fortunately for them, there was a change in direction at the top out in South Surrey at Coastal, and the former North Delta boys were able to slip back into the top flight of the Valley in a seemingly "no harm, no foul" situation.

Upon their return to the FVSL, they picked up right where they left off. They won the league their first season back in 2018, but could not get past Inter in the quarter-finals of the Provincial Cup. In 2019 they finished in second but, despite one successful trip to the Island to knock off a plucky Lakehill side, once more they stalled out at the quarter final stage against the same Cowichan side they will face in the opening round this season. The difference this time being that it is on the Mainland, not the Island, and Cowichan are not even close to being champions of the VISL, as they were last time around.

So, it was a bit of deja vu for Coastal back in the FVSL. Plenty of success during the season, but come Provincials, things stalled out. This had them once again eyeing their options for getting back into the VMSL. Low and behold, coming out of the pandemic the VMSL decided to break with their established precedent and allow for two lucky teams to gain direct entry into Division 1. Coastal had been down that road before and were not keen to go again, meaning it was Premier or bust.

Enter Rino's, who had just spent the offseason in a bitter dispute with Tigers about who was the owner of their spot in the VMSL Premier Division. After seeing off the challenge from Dr. Muhammed and proving that the spot was controlled by Rino's, the Vancouver based team's brain trust took a look at what they had following the Tigers exodus and determined that perhaps it was not going to be beneficial to have their top team play in Premier this season. A deal was struck whereby Coastal applied for the direct entry to VMSL Division 1 and then the teams would merge and switch places.

The end result was the Coastal team from the FVSL "merged" with Rino's and took control of the spot in Premier with Rino's former Premier team, coached by former Swiss international Blaise Nkufo and stocked with academy aged players, assumed the "Coastal" spot in Division 1. Of course, the irony emerged later that because the Premier spot was controlled by Rino's, as they had just established during their battle with Tigers, they were forced to maintain a stake in the team, despite it being run by Coastal. This prevented Rino's other Division 1 team, Rino's Fury, from gaining promotion at the end of the season, despite the fact they earned a spot based on their performance in Division 1 this season.

That was not Coastal's problem, though, as they were focused on bettering their record in what was now their second foray into the VMSL, and boy did they do just that. Several holdovers from their original VMSL side five seasons ago remain and they clearly took a step forward, knowing what to expect this time around. Talismanic striker Jake Starheim continues to be the heartbeat of this team, and he led the way this season with eleven goals. Pacey winger Isaac Kyei remains a threat who can terrorize defenses and he added seven goals of his own to the cause this season. Goalkeeper Brandon Watson, attacker Sean Northcote and midfildier Sidrit Vukaj have all also played key roles for Coastal this season, guiding them to the joint second best record in the VMSL.

Opposite them will be, as mentioned, the team that knocked them out of the competition the last time it was held, Cowichan FC. Back then Cowichan were back-to-back VISL champions and searching for a chance to bring the Provincial Cup back to the Island for the first time since Gorge FC won it in 2010. This time around, however, they are not quite the same powerhouse. Cowichan are the side making up the number, so to speak, for the VISL as Highlanders, who finished in fourth, opted out. Cowichan got the nod to replace them, despite finishing sixth with a losing 8-3-9 record and a negative eight goal differential.

It appears there has been quite the turnover for Cowichan since 2019. Of all the players that scored for them three seasons ago, only four popped up on the scoresheet again this season: Jordan Korvan, who had three goals, just as he did in 2019, and Colin Knight who had a pair alongside Jose Muro and Russell Lederer, neither of whom scored this season, but they did manage to find their way into the referee's book. Former twelve goal man Craig Gorman has taken his talents to Lakehill and, instead, Cowichan were led this year by Dan Citra, who managed half that tally. Coastal are surely strong favourites in this one.

West Van FC (VMSL) v Bays United Liquor Plus (VISL)
Given West Van's record this season, you would think that they were the VMSL team benefitting from the fact that second place VUFC Hibernian have opted out of this competition. However, despite a rather middling seventh place finish with a .500 record of 10-2-10, as well as a negative four goal difference, West Van are actually in on merit. Knock out football appears to be their calling card these days as, notwithstanding a rather un-West Van like season, the former Trollers turned it on for the Imperial Cup.

The Amblesiders marched all the way to the final of the Imperial Cup, booking them a place in this competition and giving them a shot at retaining the trophy they had won way back in 2019. They came up short in a rather uninspiring final, falling 2-1 to the UBC based VUFC Hibernian who are not competing in the Provincials, but their run to get there had some very memorable moments. Their quarterfinal against West Van saw them go two men up before conceding a last gasp equalizer to Inter, only to maximize their manpower advantage in the extra half hour and cruise to a 3-1 win.

This brought them up against VMSL Champions BB5 in the semis and this time it was West Van who managed the last gasp equalizer. They one again were handed a manpower advantage in extra time, but this time they could not find the decisive goal. Thus, it went to a shootout which finished in truly remarkable fashion when, after the final BB5 shooter attempted a poorly conceived Panenka, BB5 were given a second life when the goalkeeper was judged to have been off his line. The retake was then smashed over the net and West Van advanced.

Although they could not get it over the line in the final, surely the finale to the season will have given West Van something to build on going into this competition. West Van have long had a reputation for being a stout defensive team, which is why their 43 goals against and mere three clean sheet on the season was such a break with form. Goal scoring has never truly been their calling card, although Eoin McCormanck has emerged as somewhat of a talisman and he is no doubt looking forward to his first taste of the Provincials after joining the team for the 2019-20 season. His return of seven goals this season is some way off the mark he set of 16 in his inaugural VMSL campaign, but it was still enough to lead the way for West Van this year. In goal, it appears former Capilano University keeper Hudson Nelles, who was the second choice keeper for BB5 when they won this tournament three seasons ago, has taken over from long time West Van stalwart Stephen Welle and will be relied upon to take the North Shore club forward.

For Bays United, cup competitions also look to be their bread and butter as well, as they found themselves in a pair of cup final this season. Unfortunately they lost both the McGavin Cup and Jackson Cup finals, falling to Nanaimo United in both competitions. It would seem that misery loves company in the case of this cup draw. Like West Van, Bays did not have much to write home about when it came to their league campaign this year. A 9-4-7 record was good enough for fifth place, but, really, it was their cup form that carried the day.

Bays do have a serious goal scoring threat, though, in the form of Patrick Nelson, who scored literally half of their 42 league goals this year. His 21 tallies left him just two shy of the Golden Boot and he added another five goals in cup play. At the back, it has been a revolving door between the sticks as six different players recorded clean sheets this season. Harjot Nijjar looks to have done the heaviest lifting throughout the campaign, posting three shutouts, so look for him to get the nod if he is available to make the trip to the Mainland.

On paper, these two sides seem very evenly matched after almost identical seasons in their respective leagues. Also on paper, neither should really have great ambitions about how far they will get in this competition. That said, both have already shown a pedigree for that "survive and advance" cup mentality, so maybe the winner here can channel that energy again. To progress, however, Bays would need to be come the first Island team to win on the Mainland in this competition since they themselves beat Port Moody in 2015. Have to think home field advantage carries the day here.

BB5 United CCB (VMSL) v BCT Rovers Hurricanes (VMSL)
In a draw that could have served up some very spicy storylines, but did not necessarily do so, this has got to be the Match of the Round. It is a Surrey derby between a pair of bitter rivals and the last two Provincial and National champions. Oh, and there is an absolute galaxy of star power on these two teams. BB5 probably would have much preferred the draw that Tigers got as the first ball out, but, instead, they look to be in for an absolute war against arguably their biggest rivals.

Hurricanes had an absolute disaster of a start to their campaign as they were in shambles for the VMSL Premier Division Opening Day. They had no paperwork and their registrations were incomplete, which added insult to injury after a 3-2 loss to West Van. The Surrey boys were deducted a further three points for the use of ineligible players, leading them to begin their season with -3 points on the board after Week 1. Rumors of a calamitous offseason in the BCT camp were looking to be fairly on the nose as they lost their next two matches as well, shipping eight goals in the process.

A ship-steadying draw with VUFC allowed them to get pointed in the right direction, although their form remained rather indifferent through the middle of November. However, a seven match unbeaten run that carried them through until the final week of January put them firmly in the picture for a top half finish and very much in the conversation for a Provincial Cup place. One blip in their resurgence, though, came in the Preliminary Round of the Imperial Cup when they were beaten by Division 1 side Coastal. While the losing to lower league opposition was embarrassing enough, the gravity of going out so early in the cup began to loom large as West Van continued to progress.

Ironically, despite their strong turnaround, with West Van reaching the Imperial Cup final, Hurricanes are actually the team getting into this competition thanks to VUFC not entering. The irony being that BCT finished in sixth place on 34 points, two back of both Metro Ford and Inter. Had VanU decided to enter, the points deduction that Hurricanes received on Opening Day would have cost them a spot in this tournament.

It comes as no surprise that the man leading the charge at Hurricanes continues to be former Toronto FC man, Nick Soolsma. However, he may have even impressed himself this season with the way he was able to roll back the clock and dominate as he did when he first arrived in the VMSL. Soolsma scored 27 goals through 22 league matches to win the Golden Boot while his contemporaries from the 2018 team that were Provincial and National Champions, Pavi Dhillon, Ryan Dhillon and Cam Hundal, have all seen their influence diminish somewhat. The addition of former UFV Cascade and Abbotsford United man Brady Weir has been a boost for the Surrey boys, and he scored seven goals this season, and they also count former Pegasus star man Javid Khan among their ranks.

While those names certainly have some cache in VMSL circles, the team that BB5 have been able to assemble may well go one further. The team formerly known as CCB, before changing their name to honour late defender Brandon Bassi who tragically lost his life just weeks after they lifted the Provincial Cup in 2019, led the VMSL wire to wire this season and were full value in winning their first VMSL Championship. While it has been a long three years since they lifted this trophy in Nanaimo, they clearly seem geared up to take a run at defending their title.

Leading the line are top scorers Nic Morello and former Whitecaps academy man Caleb Clarke, both of whom notched 17 goals on the season. Supplementing that attack are veteran VMSL goal scorers Yassin Essa and Ramsey Alfantzi, alongside former Tigers man Connor Glennor. In the midfield they have an abundance of riches to choose from between Mark Baldisimo, club legend Bobby Jhutty, former UBC standout Boris Si, and former SFU starlet Mark Talisuna. The backline is anchored by twin-tower centrebacks Elie Gindo and Eric de Graaf and also boasts former Canadian International Marcel de Jong, while Whitecaps academy graduate Andrew Metcalf it in goal.

It is truly an embarrassment of riches and it was assembled with the sole goal of going back-to-back at Nationals. That said, there is a target on the back of BB5 and the draw ensured that the only way we could possibly see a BB5 against Tigers pseudo rematch from 2019 would be in the final. To get there, though, BB5 will have to navigate a tricky opener against Hurricanes. BCT have not played since March 11, which was, fittingly, a 2-1 loss to BB5, so there may be some question marks about their sharpness coming into this match. That said, they did hold BB5 to a 2-2 draw in their other meeting this year, and there is just something in the air when these two clash. BB5 are obviously the favourites coming in, but this fixture definitely has some upset potential.

FC Faly (FVSL) v Langley United (FVSL)
There is a great opportunity here for one of these two sides to pick up a Provincial Cup win and continue to build their program. Outside of that, however, these teams are more or less just making up the numbers here. In an interesting twist, Faly are actually defending Provincial Cup champions in their own right, having won the 2019 U21 Cup. They followed up that success by winning the VMSL U21 title in 2019-20 and were looking odds on to defend their Provincial title before Covid hit. The program was growing and, looking to expand, they wound up negotiating their way into a VMSL Division 2 spot for 2020-21. Of course that season amounted to just a handful of matches played in cohorts before everything was shutdown once more.

Believing that their program needed to be playing at a higher level, and with the VMSL not offering internal teams the chance to claim one of their "Golden Tickets" into Division 1, Faly opted to take their show to the FVSL. The North Vancouver based academy played their matches out of Surrey and did reasonably well in establishing themselves in the Valley's top tier. In the end, they amassed a 10-2-11 record that was good enough to edge out their opponents Langley by one point for fourth place. Nonetheless, there were still plenty of pains for a young side learning to play men's football at a top level and Faly had their share of lessons, so to speak. A leaky defense that kept no clean sheets this year was, on occasion, well beaten, to the tune of 50 goals against in 23 games and a -11 goal difference.

Still, there were bright spots. The most obvious being the one and only team, so far, this season to defeat the vaunted FC Tigers, which they did with a 3-2 win back at the start of October. There has also been the emergence of a trio of young stars in the form of team leader and MVP Anastazi Nahayo as well as striker Athos Michellepis de Siqueira and the dynamic Sairoob Sairoob. Faly will be hoping that this trio can continue their growth in this tournament, as well as, presumably, in the new BC League 1 this summer. Faly are the operators of Altitude FC, and it will be interesting to see how they fair in that league, given the competition they are up against. It will also be interesting to see if Faly return to the FVSL next season, given there are rumours that they were not entirely satisfied with the set up this season.

For now, though, the objective is to defeat a Langley team that is also in a full rebuild, although they do boast several veterans of the Lower Mainland soccer scene in their ranks. This Langley team, however, are a far cry from the side that reached the 2018 Provincial Cup final. The entire management has been turned over to former Pegasus star man Azad Palani, who often calls his own number and slots in, scoring eight times for the first team this season. Langley also have FVSL veteran striker John Craig to call upon, who was their leading scorer with nine goals to his name.

One holdover from that 2018 is veteran captain and talisman Scott Barling, who was the heart and soul of Langley again this season, holding down the middle of the park and chipping in with six goals of his own. Another player with plenty of Provincial Cup experience is goalkeeper Nuno Jesus, who kept four clean sheets this season and previously reached the final with Aldergrove in 2017 before joining Langley after spending a pair of season with Surrey United. Familiar names such as Brayden Gant, Devon Gilroy and Brennan Slawter slot in with younger players like Kris Robazza and Brody Thomas as Langley looks to blend youth and experience.

These teams met three times this season, with Langley edging the series, taking seven points. However, after a dominant 4-2 win in their first encounter, their second meeting was a narrow 1-0 win for United. In an interesting twist, these teams met in a makeup game the first week of April. Langley needed a win to vault Faly and finish fourth, but were forced to settle for a 3-3 draw. Perhaps both teams were playing it coy, knowing they were set to meet in the first round of this competition, or maybe it is a sign that Faly have figured something out when it comes to Langley. Either way, it sets up as a contest that could go either way, with the winner earning a trip to Surrey next week to take on a VMSL giant. It is close, but Langley's experience in this competition might well make the difference.
 

Soccer 98

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just as advertised a nail biter to the final whistle. Good crowd on hand also. interesting to see if League 1 can draw like the provincials with these quality sides playing
Mark talisman bosses the middle of the park defence was solid and nic morello is class. Best team in the country gets the job done yet again.
 

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