Burnaby schools earned the top zone seeding in both AAA and double A high school boys' soccer this Wednesday.
The Burnaby South Rebels earned the No. 1 zone berth into the B.C. AAA high school provincials with a 1-0 shootout victory over North Shore champion West Vancouver at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex-West.
Burnaby district champion Cariboo Hill Chargers also won their AA zone qualifying match, edging St. Thomas Aquinas 3-1 in extra time at Ambleside.
Alex Marroquin was the hero for South in the shootout. The senior goalkeeper stopped two West Vancouver penalty shots point blank to ensure the Rebels got a second straight appearance in the provincials.
"I like this feeling. It is so much better to be the player that makes a difference," said Marroquin after the final match.
South had by far the most scoring chances in the game but was stymied by shots just off target or by the exceptional keeping of West Van's Shawn Greensides.
The lanky North Shore goalie appeared unbeatable, particularly in the second half when he stopped a number of South attempts at goal with diving saves.
"All I was thinking of was what is going to happen next," said Marroquin. "(Greensides) was the man of the match. He kept their team in the game."
South captain Matthew Shannik had a number of solid shots at goal. The best was a low, hard shot that was deflected as it found its way through a forest of legs only to be palmed out of trouble by the West Van keeper.
Nick Leonard, who scored the shootout winner, set up Nick Hernandez for a perhaps South's best chance to end it in regulation time. But Hernandez cracked the ball just over the bar from in close.
In overtime, Tyler Hugeut got his head on a corner kick from Christian Guzman that just sailed over the crossbar.
Tyus Batiste also attempted a late free kick that was well saved by Greensides.
In the shootout, Guzman, Hernandez and Batiste all scored on Greensides before a nervous Leonard sealed the result with his team's fourth goal to West Van's pair.
"Yeah, there was (some nerves), I haven't taken a PK in three or four years," Leonard said, adding Greensides was the difference in the game for West Van. "He was. He stopped a lot of our shots. He was good. It was good we finished on all our PKs, though.
"We should have finished a couple of our chances, but stuff happens. We're going to provincials now."
The Byrne Creek Bulldogs were not as lucky, the No. 2 district seeds fell 2-1 in a penalty shootout to Handsworth at Burnaby Lake.
Brazilian international student Andre Bastos scored Byrne's lone regulation time goal.
The B.C. high school provincials will take place the week of Nov. 19 to 24 at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex-West, with the AAA finals beginning on Nov. 22.
Last year, South finished in fifth place in the provincials, but Marroquin believes this year's Rebels can do better.
"Last year, technically we were better, but chemistry-wise this team is 100 times better. I think that's what is going to give us the chance," Marroquin said.
In the AA zone final, Alejandro Castelblanco potted a pair of goals for Cariboo Hill in the win.
Kirk Menezes tallied the eventual game-winner in the last four minutes of overtime following a high free kick from approximately 40 yards out that found its way into the back of the net.
Castelblanco sealed the win, finishing off a Justin Dhaliwal cross with a one-timer into the left corner of the goal in final minutes of play.
"I told the boys if you leave it up to the last game, anything can happen," said Cariboo head coach Carlo Bolognese.
Last season, an unheralded Cariboo Hill team came out of nowhere to earn a spot in the provincial AA final.
This year, the team goal is to go one step farther. "That's our goal to be honest. You can't go any farther than that. It would be nice to finish it off," Bolognese added.
"Last year, we almost didn't have a team. It's a really cool story. They've learned a lot, and I think they're being rewarded for it."
The AA provincials will also run at Burnaby Lake-West from Nov. 19 to 21.