A late first-half goal by Alex Chima stood up as the game-winner as the Burnaby Central Wildcats defeated the Cariboo Hill Chargers 2-1 in the BNW high school soccer final Wednesday.
Chima’s harmless-looking shot from outside the 18-yard-box deflected on its way to the goal and beat Cariboo keeper Mankirat Grewal to the near post.
The win gave Central the district banner and some redemption for past indiscretions that led to a suspension from the provincials a year ago.
“It means a lot more for the team to come back from being suspended and coming back this way is awesome,” said Central defender Duncan Penman. “It’s hard to come back after that. It’s nice to have a second chance.”
That second chance will come on Tuesday, Nov. 5, when Central will take on the winner of the North Shore league in a AAA zone showdown.
Parker Ellis got Central off to a quick start with the game’s first goal.
Later in the first half, Chima doubled the score with his game-winning strike.
Ellis was unlucky to come away empty on a late first-half break after Grewal outguessed the crafty striker inside the box.
Midway through the second half, a blistering Cariboo Hill free kick from the corner of the 18-yard box by Alberto Pincelli was deflected by Central keeper Trevor Hughes right to Belguim international student Anton Wouters, who guided the ball into the back of the net.
Grewal kept the Chargers in the game, stopping a long, bending shot by Duncan Penman that could have sewn things up for Central.
But despite throwing everyone forward, Cariboo was unable to score the equalizer against Central’s solid back line.
Chima said the spirited finish by both teams proved just how much winning the district banner meant to both teams.
“For sure, (Central) won the banner in our junior year. It meant a lot to the seniors on our team to bring it home again,” Chima said.
The loss was not the end of the line for the Cariboo Hill team.
The Chargers will also have the opportunity to qualify for the provincial championships, when they take on the North Shore AA champion in Burnaby on Nov. 5.
“By winning the provincials we can erase this loss,” said Wouters. “But this comes hard. We got to get our heads up and win the provincials. A couple of good individuals (on Central) killed us.”
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