With their backs to the wall and a hill to climb, the Wesburn Galaxy under-16 boys soccer team took it as a challenge.
In one of their biggest games of the season, the Burnaby squad rallied and emerged from a 2-0 deficit to pull out a dramatic 4-3 win in penalty kicks to capture the Coastal B Cup crown last week.
By topping Guildford in the final, not only did they avenge an earlier loss, but also corralled some important momentum for the provincial cup tournament in July.
It wasn’t often that Wesburn found itself in such a predicament, but head coach Aaron Johnson said it wasn’t unexpected in how they boys reacted.
“I thought it may get lopsided and that our run might be over but the boys had a collective will and we scored a goal late in the half to make it 2-1,” recalled Johnson. “That was the confidence boost that we needed and we came out in the second half to get two more goals.”
Ryan Nagy and Caleb Yoon, with a pair, erased the 2-0 deficit and put the Galaxy ahead of their Surrey rivals. The squad came close to sealing the win on a Nicholas Leong header that bounced off the crossbar, but Guildford flashed their own brand of resiliency and tied it with time winding down, forcing overtime.
After neither team was able to score during the two extra sessions, the game was decided in penalty kicks. Thanks to the daring work of goalkeeper Nicholas Kenchington, who made a diving save and nearly pulled out another one, Wesburn took the win on Yoon’s strike to the low corner.
Because both teams qualified for the provincial cup, Johnson was ecstatic that his boys eked out the win.
“Had we lost to (Guildford) that would have been two in a row which would have been a tough mental hurdle to get over. I think the boys felt a bit vindicated since we have lost some games this year that we should have won and they know that they have big shoes to fill,” said Johnson, referring to the Galaxy’s past successes at the u16 provincials.
For this group, getting to the final tournament is nothing new.
“We are definitely feeling lucky to be going to the provincials again for the third year in a row. There are lots of other good teams in the Lower Mainland that could easily be there instead of us. … No doubt we will be the ones to beat in Prince George and will have a big target on our backs and hopefully we can manage that and continue our run of good play.”
The team has put together a GoFundMe page at https://bit.ly/2VJC09W (www.gofundme.com/help-send-the-wesburn-galaxy-to-the-provincials) to help raise funds for team expenses in covering the costs of travelling to Prince George.
Wesburn’s roster includes: Otis Ashby, Jeffrey Baldisimo, Jasman Hehar, Kaeden Humphries, Koen Johnson, Nicholas Kenchington, Bojan Kos, Adam Lavin, Nicholas Leong, Ryan Nagy, Brian Saleh, Jordan Scott, Stephen Songo, Jacob Spartano, Justin Tran, Anthony Vargas, Braeden Woo and Caleb Yoon.