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Photos: Burnaby teams headed to girls' high school soccer provincials after semifinal wins

The Burnaby Central Wildcats and Burnaby North Vikings will first play for the Fraser North zone championship.

It will be an all-Burnaby showdown next Thursday, May 16, for the Fraser North senior girls' soccer zone championship.

The Burnaby Central Wildcats defeated the Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils, 2-1, in penalty kicks in their semifinal match Thursday, May 9, at the Coquitlam high school.

In the other semifinal, the Burnaby North Vikings upset the defending provincial-champion Centennial Centaurs, 1-0, also in penalty kicks, at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.

Both Burnaby teams automatically qualify as the Fraser North representatives at the provincial championships to be played in Cloverdale, May 29 to 31.

In Coquitlam, Saira Johal gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead after a scoreless first half.

Central then hung on under relentless pressure from Blue Devils attackers until the very last moment of injury time when Best was able to tie the match.

Neither team scored in extra time, sending the rivals to the spot.

Johal, Julianna Thauberger and Chiara Lucarelli all made good on their penalty kicks.

Wildcats head coach David Katsionis said extra practice on the one-on-one showdowns through the regular season paid off.

“The team has been very committed all season,” he said of Central’s drive to make it to provincials for the third straight year. “The girls at halftime were very determined to get the win.”

Katsionis said the Wildcats, which finished second in Burnaby-New West league play, were full measure for their win over the Blue Devils, which came into the semifinal with a clean record of five wins and no losses in its league play.

“They pushed us to every single limit imaginable,” Katsionis said of Dr. Charles Best. “One message these girls have shared all season long was to go out there and do what we do best: remain friends on and off the field and have fun playing together.”

Central and North will play their zone championship match Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex West.