It’s a long way to Tipperary, as the century-old song would say.
It’s also a lengthy route to the provincial cup – but one of the last routes is through the Coastal Cup.
Burnaby has a bunch of soccer teams that have advanced to their respective semifinals, with momentum one of the benefits to the playoff run. Some of the teams already have berths to provincial cup play booked, but getting some Coastal Cup bling is more than mere icing. Here’s a round-up of Burnaby’s teams on the brink.
Burnaby FC u16 boys
In their first taste of action since spring break, the Burnaby District Metro Select FC took a few moments to catch their breath before barrelling past North Van 4-2 in the Coastal A Cup quarterfinal two weeks ago.
Trailing 1-0 after 10 minutes, Burnaby counted a pair before halftime, then found themselves tied in a battle with a feisty rival. In true FC fashion, Burnaby notched the final two goals to advance to the semifinal (April 27, v Port Moody).
Joey Cannova and Jacob Mastromonaco each tallied twice in the game, while centre-back Lazar Kragulj and Manolo Aguilar did a tremendous job of keeping North Van’s strikers in check.
Burnaby, which posted the league’s best record, 15-1-3 during the metro season and clinched a provincial cup spot along the way, responded well to the pushback from North Van. That’s been true most of the season, noted FC coach Leo Cuccione.
“The season has gone well for us. We have a team that is skilled and hard working,” said Cuccione.
“At the start of our season myself and co-coach Dan Mastromonaco knew that we have a special group of players that are capable of winning the B.C. Coastal League – accomplished; BC Coastal Cup – semifinals; and the provincial cup – qualified, and have fun doing it. Practice hard and have fun during the journey and enjoy the moments.”
Now, they draw in against another underdog. The Port Moody Selects posted a 9-6-2 record and have gathered steam during the playoffs. In their two league encounters, Burnaby won 3-1 and tied 1-1.
The game is scheduled for Saturday, 10 a.m. at Burnaby Lake West.
Burnaby u17 girls Dynamite
A long fuse looked to be a problem early in the season.
But for the Burnaby District Metro Select u17 girls Dynamite, what was absorbed in a slow start to the season has now been part of the impact they’ve delivered in their cup run.
The Dynamite advanced to the Coastal A Cup semifinal by clipping Vancouver Island-Gorge 3-2 two weeks ago.
Burnaby blew out to a 3-0 lead but hung on for the win. Ashlyn Nance and Clara Liu opened the scoring, and Lucy Robinson struck for the eventual game winner early in the second half. Although the Island team counted twice to narrow the gap, the Dynamite defence, led by Mikaela Viani, Taya Batiste and Gurneet Sidhu, stood their ground.
For the veteran squad, which reached the Coastal Cup final and provincials last year, this season began with more of a whimper than a bang. It wasn’t until their fifth game that they locked down their first win, and while they recovered to post the fourth-best record at 7-6-4, a bevy of injuries presented a big obstacle to achieving their goal of getting back to the finals.
“Our team is no stranger to adversity,” head coach Ivan Svetic said. “The biggest adversity we’ve had to face again this season was injury, and long term major injuries. Nothing phases (this) group. … There are a lot of things you can’t control, but if we take care of the things we can control, and play the way we’re capable of, we feel we’re capable to have success in the big games.”
Their Coastal Cup run began with a 2-1 win over Vancouver.
The Dynamite host the VUFC Comets on Sunday, 3 p.m. at Burnaby Lake West.
Burnaby u13 boys United
It’s been a steady progression for the Burnaby District Metro Select United on the u13 boys metro circuit.
In a regular season where they lost just three times and doubled the opposition in scoring (39 goals for t0 19 against), the squad has given coach Jovan Lazarevic a lot to be happy about en route to the Coastal Cup semifinal.
“The season has gone extremely well for the team and they have shown steady improvement all year,” said Lazarevic, who works the sidelines with Ivan Svetic. “Our goal was to have a long run through Coastal Cup and we’re pleased with how things have gone so far.”
The blanked Surrey United 3-0 in the cup quarterfinals two weeks ago, getting two goals from Markus Rukavina and a single by Rolan Amin. Controlling the midfield and moving the ball forward was a team effort, led by Max Lazarevic and Nicholas Svetic. Defensively, David Dorland and Maks Tomljenovic were at the forefront in helping goalkeepers Antonio Moretto and Roko Vukic collect a shared clean sheet.
In their first Coastal Cup test, Burnaby edged West Van 1-0.
The next task, as it usually is, looks a lot tougher, as United squares off against regular season champion North Vancouver, which went 16-0-2 and scored 77 times.
In their lone encounter this year, Burnaby gave them a tough test in a 1-0 decision.
The semifinal is slated for Saturday, 2 p.m. at North Van’s Fen Burdett Park.
Burnaby u14 girls Storm
With their backs to the wall twice, the Burnaby District Metro Select girls Storm poured on the attack and walked off victorious.
Not even a deficit in overtime could staunch them.
Burnaby advanced to the Coastal A Cup semifinal match by slipping past the Victoria Surge 3-2, thanks to some heroic offensive drives and a well-heeled game plan.
Put in a hole early after Victoria scored first, the Storm reassembled after the half with renewed focus. Anabelle Yee put down a perfect pass to Nathalie Burkett near the box who converted to tie the game. After nothing was resolved over the remaining minutes of regulation, the two teams hit extra time, with the Surge again connecting first, this time off a free kick. With time winding down, Burkett cashed in her second of the day, and then Yee followed, nailing a corner kick that deflected in off a defender.
Centre-back Eileen Culleton was a force all game, while Katie Khaodhiar worked tirelessly. Turning in standout work at their respective positions were Adriana Primerano and Ellysia Chisholm.
The Storm, who survived a rough start to the season which saw three players lost due to broken bones.
“These players have understood that their responsibility is to themselves,” head coach Greg Burkett said. “If each player commits to training and learning then they team will benefit from their continuing growth of abilities. … The team is benefiting and has therefore created six wins and three ties in their last nine games.”
They had opened the Coastal Cup series with a 3-1 win over South Delta.
Three of those wins have come against previously undefeated teams.
Burnaby’s next test is against Coquitlam Metro-Ford, which posted the second-best mark during the regular season. The two teams, who split the series during the season, meet Sunday, 1 p.m. at Burnaby Lake.
Burnaby u13 metro girls Fire
The NHL first round playoffs don’t have anything to teach to the members of the Burnaby District Metro Select Fire.
The u13 metro girls soccer team enter this weekend’s Coastal A Cup semifinal against Richmond having survived back-to-back penalty kick situations.
To get past Coquitlam Metro-Ford 2-1 two weeks ago, netminder Gina Favero came up with a huge stop on the first penalty kick, leading to the team’s biggest win of the season so far.
Counting goals on the day were Dariella Lopez, with a left-footed shot in the first half as well as a tally during the shootout, and Tomiko Kong on a penalty kick.
Lishan Melles Hewitt and Amelia Mori offered dominating turns at key positions, while Noemi Flores was a constant hawk on possession. The backline was led by the dynamic duo of Indira Chiang and Natalia Pugliese.
Their earlier win – 3-2 in penalty kicks over West Coast, saw Lopez hit the back of the net three times in another must-win contest.
“It was exciting to see the girls in their first real penalty kick elimination,” remarked coach Matt Mori. “We’ve been training and preparing for these and the girls are quite comfortable.”
And while u13 tends to be all about new tests, Mori said the girls have responded through a series of ups and downs as the players adjusted to the first season of 11-on-11 football.
“This was a transition year into competitive soccer and they have adapted well. They are constantly learning about the game and having fun. They also understand that training time is training time and to be focused on the time we have together.”
The team now lines up against Richmond for a Sunday, 9:30 a.m. date at Burnaby Lake West.
COASTAL B CUP
Cliff Avenue u13 boys Mustangs
A quick start gave them the foundation, but a full-team effort scored the result for the Cliff Avenue u13 boys Mustangs in their Coastal B Cup quarterfinal against Mission.
Marcus Tallarico put Cliff Avenue in front five minutes into the playoff match, with Wren Glanville counting the team’s second goal. Up 2-1 at halftime, the Mustangs faced a serious threat when Mission was awarded a penalty kick that goalkeeper Lucas Colombara turned back. It provided an extra boost, leading to Thomas Mustapic’s tally to round out the scoring.
After going 5-1-5 over the regular season in Div. 1, Cliff Avenue entered the playoffs with a solid foundation.
“Considering that this was the first year playing 11 vs. 11, with players coming together from different teams, we jelled rather quickly and specifically stepped up our play during cup qualification,” said coach Rino Pannozzo.
The Mustangs’ next opponent, Vancouver, is one they are familiar with.
“The key to keeping the run going will be to play a high tempo and simple game,” said Pannozzo.
The semifinal match goes Saturday, 10 a.m. at Point Grey.
South Burnaby Metro u15 boys Spartans
In convincing fashion, the South Burnaby Metro u15 boys Spartans punched their ticket to the Coastal B Cup semifinal two weeks ago.
After some moments to gauge the opposition, Burnaby erupted and pushed forward in a 5-0 victory over Saanich in the quarterfinals.
Kevin Tian, on a setup from Ilia Afsarian, opened the scoring with what proved to be the game-winner 30 minutes into the contest. It was followed by goals off the feet of Justin Lee, Afsarian and two, off breakaways, by Suleiman Refat.
Drawing key assists were Muhammad Alabdily and Adam Tanguay.
When ever adversity crossed their path, the Spartans found a way to traverse it, head coach Yaser Afsarian said.
“We did very well in the season – we finished second and won the silver medal for the championship,” he noted. “We are always one of the top Div. 1 teams in our age group and we want to stay like that, but we didn’t start the season as it was expected.”
The road to the cup first involved the district run, which saw the Spartans defeat its Burnaby rivals by five goals or more.
Burnaby heads to Richmond on Saturday, 1 p.m. for their semifinal match.
In other Coastal B Cup matches, the Wesburn Galaxy romped 6-0 over Gorge-Lakehill to advance to the boys B semifinal – where they’ll travel to Richmond on Saturday for a 3 p.m. tilt; and the South Burnaby Thunderbirds nudged Vancouver United 3-2 – the same score in their first-round win over local rival Cliff Avenue -- to draw into Saturday’s semifinal, 11:45 a.m. at Point Grey.