Salty silver

Photo by Alvin Lescano
Photo by Alvin Lescano

Women’s soccer takes second

By Davie Wong, Sports Editor

Coming into the PACWEST Provincial Tournament, the women’s soccer team were projected in the top two. With a ton of expectations on their shoulders, and an abundance of individual awards, the Royals went into their semi-final game against the Capilano Blues brimming with confidence.

Their confidence would serve them well as they came out of the gates with speed and power. The women muscled their way into the Blues’ zone and converted on a magnificent shot from the Player of the Year, Andrea Perrotta. The early lead would be defining for the Royals as they went on to dominate possession and dictate the Blues’ movements during the first half.

The second half would prove to be a bit a drag for the Royals, as the momentum of the team came to a screeching halt after the Blues would find a way to squeeze out the game tying goal at the 80th minute. It was a heartbreaker of a decision, as the Blues scorer looked to be a mile and a half offside but was seemingly un-noticed by the line judge.

The goal would send the game into extra time. It was there that the Royals came back to life after a somewhat dreary second half. A gorgeous run by Mikayla Hamilton earned the Royals a corner kick. Perrotta came up to take the corner kick and delivered a blistering ball straight to the feet of midfielder Taylor Wettig, who blasted it into the net.

The goal would hold over into the end of extra time, and the Royals would punch their ticket to the National Tournament, and the gold medal final.

While much anticipation was on them returning to the National stage, there was a lot riding on them going into the gold medal match as well. It was a chance to defend their title, and reclaim it.

Standing in their way was the VIU Mariners, who looked to dethrone the Royals. They got the start they wanted as a missed interception by the Royals resulted in a Mariners goal nearly 20 minutes into the game. The Royals could not crack the Mariner backline for the life of them in the first half.

However, the second half was much brighter for the Royals, who really pushed through the Mariners’ defence nicely. Like the landing of the beaches, the Royals came in waves, taking shot, after shot, after shot. Unfortunately, much like the shots at the beaches, they weren’t very accurate, and the Royals blundered some good chances. The best chance they got was a shot from Andrea Perrotta off a free kick that barely glanced the bar and went over.

Miraculously, the Royals also managed to hold the lead, with some great footwork from Sarah Strelau and Sam Kell, as well as Alexa Gazzola adding in her fair share. But their efforts fell flat, as the Mariners held onto their 1–0 lead to win the game, sending the Royals home with silver in their hands, and disappointment in their eyes.

After the game, coach Chris Laxton took some time to talk about his team’s effort on the field: “After they scored, they sat back and we went at them, wave after wave, and just couldn’t capitalize on some of the chances we created. But credit to them, they kept the ball out of their net.”

The men’s soccer team also played their tournament this week. Their journey was no easier than their counterparts. Entering the tournament eyeing a first place finish, but projected as a third place finish, the men had an upwards journey to get to where they wanted. Their first challenge was the VIU Mariners in the semi-finals.

The Royals got off to their trademark start, albeit in a dramatic fashion. A clattering in the box sent the Royals to the mark where Nick Pineda-Graham missed a conversion. However, he would get his just desserts moments later, and converted on a scuffle in front of the net. Isaac Kyei would help the Royals double up on their lead with a deafening blast that silenced the entirety of the Mariners’ side.

However, the Mariners would not go down without a fight. They scored on the very next play, which caught the Royals on the flatfoot. Down 2–1, the Mariners fought back hard before finally being able to tie the game with 15 minutes remaining. Stifled by their opponents, the Royals held on for the draw, sending the game to extra time.

The extra half solved nothing, so the teams headed to the shootout. The Royals looked gutted after their first shooter roofed the ball. But VIU made the error no team wants to ever make, and sent the ball that could win them the game over the net. With a chance to equalize, Royals goalkeeper Jared Horvath came out to take the shot. He stunned everyone by delivering a vicious blast that blew the game wide open. Only five shots later, Juggy Bassi had the chance to win the game for the Royals in the eighth round. There was absolute silence, and then the sound of net and screaming as the Royals poured onto the field.

With that win in their hands, they too punched a ticket to Nationals. However, the gold medal was still their focus. The team that stood in their way was the Capilano Blues, who looked absolutely dominant in their 5–2 semi-final win over Quest. They were dominant, and made sure the Royals knew.

Only two minutes after the start of the game, the Royals conceded a corner kick that led to a goal. A few minutes later, the same story. Ten minutes after that, and we’ve got a rout on our hands. It was 3–0 before 40 minutes. It was an impressive feat by the Blues, but one that didn’t help coaches Robby Toor and Paul Bahia. The team that came out on the field from the locker rooms at half was much different.

Unfortunately, as is so common at these high level events, tempers began to flare. A sending off saw the Royals down to 10 men. But the poor fortune inspired the squad, and gave them goals from Devon Jones and Rajan Purewal. Unluckily for them, their poor fortune continued, as a second red card saw the team down to nine men. Blues striker Keith Jackson sealed the deal for both teams, and the Blues claimed the gold off a 4–2 win.