Aldergrove Secondary senior boys soccer team made B.C.’s top-15 at the provincial cup
By Stuart Crowley
The Aldergrove Totems senior boys’ soccer team competed in the AA provincial championships this past week at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex, November 23-25.
After a narrow loss against the Brookswood Bobcats in the Fraser Valley championship, the Totems were grouped with Vancouver’s John Oliver Jokers, Invermere’s David Thompson Lakers, and Victoria’s St. Michael’s University School Blue Jags.
Monday’s opening round-robin game on Monday saw the Totems facing the Jokers. The parity of the group became apparent early on, as both teams traded chances at goal. Defensively, the Totems were sound, leaving few shots to trouble goalkeeper Tavares Demelo.
The teams went into half time scoreless. Aldergrove pressed the tempo of the game in the second half, retaining possession and generating quality scoring chances, but finding themselves unable to bulge the twine. With about ten minutes to go, on a Jokers counterattack, Demelo made a quality challenge on the opposing striker. The ref saw no issue on the play, but the linesman disagreed, flagging the play and awarding a penalty. The spot kick was successful. The Totems pressured for the final minutes, but still couldn’t score, and the game finished 1-0 for John Oliver.
Looking to make amends in the second game and retain some hope of topping their group, Aldergrove started strongly against the Lakers. Again, the Totems were plagued by a lack of scoring, and many quality chances were left begging. The Lakers proved to be one of the hardest working opponents the Totems had faced this season, and the hard work paid off with a goal before the half. The Totems found their footing after the break, and yet another threatening run by speedster Ko Ota resulted in a penalty for Aldergrove. Ota calmly slotted the shot to tie the game.
Despite an abundance of opportunities, the Totems could not find the winning strike, and late in the game, the Lakers’ persistence paid off. A defensive miscue sent the David Thompson striker in alone. He poked the ball past an onrushing Demelo, and the winning goal rolled across the line.
With two losses out of three round robin games, coaches Brian Hunter and Stuart Crowley focused on making sure each player got the most out of the experience. Splitting the playing time between all 19 squad members and giving Demelo a respite from his goalkeeping duties in the last three games ensured that all players experienced provincial soccer.
A lopsided loss on Tuesday morning to the Blue Jags was not indicative of the play in the game, as St. Michael’s was looking to go through on goal differential.
Finishing fourth in their pool set up a date for the Totems with Rockridge Secondary. Defence took a back seat in this game, with 10 goals scored. Unfortunately, seven of those were for Rockridge, which left Aldergrove to battle Caledonia for 15th place.
The game looked to be following Aldergrove’s earlier pattern of having the majority of possession, but having nothing to show for it on the scoresheet. Indeed, the score was knotted at 0-0 until the final 15 minutes, when Simone Intermite, Ryan Schmunk, and Johnny Puigvert scored in rapid succession, giving Aldergrove their first win at the provincials and the 15th place plaque for the school’s trophy case.
Despite not finishing where they wanted to at the tournament, the Totems can take pride in being among the 15 best teams in the entire province. Coming together from six different countries, the Totems are Tavares Demelo, Jimmy Zong, Shion Yamamoto, Ko Yamada, Daniel Livingstone, Ryan Schmunk, Simone Intermite, Alex Jang, Johnny Puigvert, Kohsuke Tsutsui, Ko Ota, Sean Connolly, Keisuke Gunji, Ryohei Hasegawa, Max Weitemeier, Alex Qanbery, Ryan Shakirae, Nagi Nakagawa, Ian Crispin, and Domenic Cusano.