When does a streak become a dynasty?
The Burnaby Metro Selects Lakers have crossed that line.
The under-18 metro boys team will be competing in their fifth straight provincial cup this summer, after topping the Metro League.
Although the most recent decision, a 2-1 victory over Richmond United last month, locked up the berth to the July 7 to 10 tournament, which Burnaby is hosting, the successful path was set many years ago.
“The core group of our team has been together for five years – when we first started at u13,” remarked coach Franco Iuele in an email. “Over the past five years, many of our players have moved (on) to play at the B.C. Select Premier League or with the Whitecaps.”
A part of this year’s lineup have also faced promotion offers, but chose to stay and play with their Laker friends, he noted.
“Part of the attraction for our boys to stay with out team is because it feels like an extended family. The friendships that both the players and parents have nurtured and developed over the years have been just as valuable as the success by the boys on the field.”
That success has been four provincial titles, including last year’s 3-2 victory over Richmond in the u16 final.
In the move up to a new division, the test became his 16 year olds competing against 17 year olds. No one was fazed by that prospect, however, as evident by their first-place finish.
It’s been a team accomplishment, but Iuele pointed to the play of midfielder Marco Favaro and centre back Mario Banovic for setting a tone, as well as rookie goalkeeper Brian Del Carpio for making an immediate impact this season.
Defensively, Kolby Buljevic laid the foundation in tandem with Banovic, while Matteo Iuele and Mihai Hodut cemented the midfield.
Carrying a big part of the leadership load, as captains, were Anthony Prpic and Nicholas Sanchez.
In the league final against Richmond, Favaro and Sanchez supplied the offence, while Del Carpio was firm in holding back a forceful rally.
“It’s really taken all 17 players to believe in each other and to work hard together in order for us to be successful,” said Iuele, who has coached in the minor ranks for 36 years. “On the field, we are pretty diverse. We can attack and defend quite well and do a good job out-possessing our opposition on most games. We like to put a lot of pressure on the opposition and have created many goals because of our high tempo.
“We can also vary our play from possession to quick counter attacks making us a little unpredictable to defend (against).”