Pride, determination and passion won out over exhaustion Saturday as the Burnaby Central Wildcats doubled up Tamanawis 4-2 to claim third place at the B.C. AAA boys soccer championships.
Fonz Marano’s marker midway through the second half proved to be winner, as the Wildcats showed up intending to put a tough 4-0 setback, suffered a day earlier at the hands of the eventual champion Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils, behind them.
“They didn’t want to let each other down,” remarked Burnaby Central assistant coach Anto Steko. “We didn’t know if they’d come together or if (Friday’s loss) would take it out of them. ... But what we saw was everyone on time and wanting to end the season with a medal.”
Tied 1-1 at the half, the Wildcats took control in the second half and built a three-goal lead while silencing the Surrey squad until late in the contest.
Also scoring for the squad were Marco Sherwood and call-ups Samsen Beattie and Anthony Page-Vincelli.
In the semifinal, Best executed well and took advantage of a yellow card which put Burnaby a player short for much of the second half.
“When we got to halftime trailing by just 1-0 we felt lucky,” said Steko. “A lot of our players know their players through various leagues, knew what they had as a club.
“We kind of came out a little hesitant, and when we were down a player they were just too tired and emotionally drained.”
Another factor was that in their final round-robin match against Sullivan Heights, the Wildcats needed at least a draw to advance to the Final Four.
They did one better, edging out the Surrey school 2-1 when Brady Hughes tallied the game winning goal early in the second half. Also scoring was Nathan Graziano.
“I think the highlight for us was going into that semifinal having won all three round-robin games,” noted Steko, who worked the sidelines with head coach Ibrahim Adamu. “I think the boys showed a lot of grit and consistency. Those four games in two days took a lot and they were very tired.”
They had opened the tournament by blasting Lake City 8-0, getting a pair of goals from Graziano. They also edged Princess Margaret 2-0 on tallies by Stefan Jerkovic and Hughes.
The lineup will see a lot of turnover next season, as all but one starter was in Grade 12.
The Wildcats do have a group of strong juniors coming up, Steko said, including Beattie, in Gr. 10, and Page-Vincelli, in Gr. 9.
Senior Andre Del Bianco, who played on Central’s 2013 B.C. finalist, was selected to the Commissioner’s 11, an all-star award.