As losses go, Saturday’s 3-2 at the hands of Guildford FC put a frosty chill in what had to that point been an extremely strong season for the Estrella de Chile FC Burnaby.
While it came in the Under-21 Cup final, it won’t be the bookend to a year which saw the mostly 1998-born lineup stride up the standings for a regular season title.
Burnaby still has the the big prize -- the provincial cup in July -- to focus on, with the potential for redemption. Still, losing is never easy to digest.
“It was disappointing, for sure,” said EDC assistant coach Gio Hernandez. “It was fairly 50-50 (possession) game but as coaches we thought it was one of our lesser (efforts).”
Although they trailed 1-0 midway through the first, Burnaby hit for the equalizer quickly with a marker from Kalifa Konneh, then took the lead when netminder Savo Bogicevic stepped out from the box and delivered on the penalty kick.
The final 45 minutes proved to be a test against a rival loaded with 20 year olds, as Burnaby’s roster leans heavily on 17- and 18-year olds.
Guildford made it 2-2 on a penalty kick early in the second half, then reclaimed the lead at the 70th minute on a goalline scramble as they ramped up the offence.
“(Guildford’s) penalty-kick goal kind of swung the game as it seemed to give them some life and the momentum. They elevated their game,” said Hernandez.
With the tide having turned, it was all EDC could do to muster up a good scoring chance behind a suddenly unbending defensive resolve from their Surrey rivals.
“We tried to push (forward) but we couldn’t find that extra space when we needed it.”
Definitely hampered by a month-long layoff, with a handful of players getting called up to play with the premier side, the club were not as sharp as they’d shown during a long successful regular season run, he noted.
Although they were dejected, losing in the final to a team they had beaten twice in the regular season, Hernandez said the message he and head coach Zico Najm conveyed was to be disappointed, but to learn from it.
“We won the league and we were very optimistic that we could pull (the cup win) off,” said Hernandez. “The boys were very discouraged but they had nothing to be ashamed about.”
Now the focus turns to July’s provincial championships, where EDC, Guildford, Surrey United and Coquitlam Metro-Ford will spar for B.C. bragging rights.
“We’ll put this one behind us and focus on the provincials,” added Hernandez.