On a high note

Photo by Davie Wong
Photo by Davie Wong

Men’s soccer take three points

By Davie Wong, Sports Editor

It’s been an undeniably tough midseason for the Royals men’s soccer team. Getting thrashed by the Quest Kermodes and then getting spanked by the Capilano Blues is never something one wants to read in the same sentence, but it’s a reality for this team. The Royals squad has struggled for a couple of weeks now. They just can’t get the results they want, or even close to it. This week, against the Langara Falcons, the team had a real chance to snap that streak.

The lowly Falcons sit at the bottom of the PACWEST table, and had not yet won a game on the season. It was supposed to be an easy win for the Royals, and it looked like it would be, too. Right out of the gate of Saturday’s game, the Royals put the Falcons into a two goal hole. It was the perfect start for the momentum-driven Royals. Early goals were the team’s specialty, and they capitalized perfectly. But momentum is a fickle beast.

As quick as the Royals earned the lead, they also lost it. It started with a single goal from the Falcons, then a second, and then a third. Then the Royals were down, and if it’s anything this team has had trouble doing, it’s climbing out of a deficit. All the training in the world hasn’t changed that this season, and it looked like this game wouldn’t either, but Mateo Serka had something else in mind for the Royals. He would lead the charge into the Falcons’ half with five minutes left of the clock, and it would be he that put away the game tying goal. It was a thrilling comeback, but ultimately not meant to be. The Falcons would answer right back only a few moments later with the game-winning goal to snag their first win, and give the Royals their third loss in a row.

The Royals were disenchanted, but not disheartened. After all, with that loss, their playoff chances were on the line as well. Sunday’s game was another tough battle for the men. A hard tackle gave the Falcons a free kick, which they converted into a goal for an early lead. Down, but not out, the Royals did their best to overturn the deficit, but could not find any luck. Royals’ fifth-year winger hit the crossbar and Max Williams put the rebound over just before the half could end, leaving the Royals trailing heading into half time.

After some words of “encouragement” from Coach Robby Toor, the team took to the field in the second half to try their luck again. Luck found them in the form of a header off a corner from Race Williams, and just like that, the game was equalized. But lady luck is so fickle, and the Royals saw several of their chances hit the woodwork or swivel just wide at the last moment. Fortunately for them, Mateo Serka makes his own luck, and he found a way to get a ball behind the Langara keeper for the go-ahead goal right at the very end of the game off a free kick from Race Williams. It was a moment of deja-vu for those who remembered the first game these two rivals played, but for the Royals, it was enough. The goal was close enough to the end of the game to give the Royals some confidence, but left enough time for Langara to run the ball down the field for one last go.

A missed corner gave the Royals the game as the ball was hoofed out of play and the final whistle was blown. Coach Robby Toor took some time after the game to talk about his team snapping their losing streak. “It was good to get the win today. The guys battled. We’ve been short numbered for a number of weeks now and it’s good to see that we put ourselves out there today and played with heart and passion. The last three games haven’t been easy. We haven’t always been able to battle back, but we look at the last three games as true tests of our character. It’s very easy to fold the tent and call it a season when you’re going that direction, but the guys dug deep.”

The game snaps the team’s three-game losing streak and gives them a solid shot at the playoffs, with it being nearly impossible for Langara to catch them. However, Coach Toor warns against complacency for his team. “Your first goal is to qualify for provincials to compete for the provincial cup, so we’ve almost checked that box off. Now we just move on and prepare for each game. Even though we’ve pretty much qualified for a playoff spot it doesn’t mean we take these three games off. These games are our preparation games and our positional games to see where we stand going into the PACWEST Provincials.”