The Wesburn Galaxy are on a mission to go where they've gone before.
The u16 boys squad have demonstrated grit and determination to reach the Coastal B Cup final, thanks to a heroic comeback last Saturday in a 3-2 victory over Richmond.
Trailing 1-0 and having faced a handful of tough forward charges by a hungry Richmond crew, Wesburn turned the page for the second half and began to push back. It paid dividends on Caleb Yoon’s successful run, where he split the defence and drove to the net after a quick give-and-go to tie the game. A few moments later, the Galaxy were back at it, this time with Ryan Nagy’s corner kick misplayed into the net for a 2-1 lead.
Now holding the momentum, the locals upped the lead to 3-1 on Yoon’s second of the day.
Protecting the lead, the team’s defence did the ‘bend, don’t break’ to perfection, led by Jacob Spartano, Justin Tran and Jasman Hehar.
Although Richmond inched closer, Wesburn maintained a lead the rest of the way to secure a berth into Saturday’s final, which will see them line-up against Guildford.
“I am proud of the boys for weathering the late push from Richmond. We’ve given up some late goals this year which have cost us wins and points and have, at times, lost our composure, too,” noted Galaxy coach Aaron Johnson. “We kept our heads and still did our best not to panic and to continue to try and keep possession. We saw the game out for the win.”
Having played Guildford in the past – including a victory at last year’s provincials and a loss at a recent tournament – the coaching staff will be looking to see if they can use that experience to their advantage.
“The Coastal Cup final is not a ‘must win’ since we will go to provincials with Guildford either way, but whichever team wins this weekend should have a psychological advantage in Prince George this summer,” he noted.
“As far as our strategy we try not to change our game too much since we’ve had success doing what we do over the past few years. … When we have the ball we are looking for patience and possession until we can strike with a decisive run to capitalize on our team speed.”
In other Coastal B Cup action, the South Burnaby Spartans knocked off Richmond 2-1 to advance to Saturday’s championship match against the VUFC Aces.
It all came together under a cool, calm game plan.
South Burnaby took the lead at the 20-minute mark on Sulaiman Refat, after he stole the ball from a defender and buried it behind the netminder.
Early in the second half, Refat netted his second of the day when a penalty kick was awarded after Muhammad Alabdily was fouled in the penalty box.
Up 2-0, the Spartans weathered a potential setback thanks to netminder Rocco Madden, who turned back a penalty kick.
“I believe that was the turning point of the game,” remarked South Burnaby coach Yaser Afsarian. “That one goal could have given the Richmond team a hope to return back to the game.”
Richmond would put one goal on the board, but it came in the final minute of play.
The win assured the Spartans a spot in July’s provincial cup tournament in Prince George.
Now, while a win in the Coastal Cup final would be gravy, it’s still something the players have their eyes on, noted the coach.
“We have played in a Coastal Cup final two years ago and won the cup in 2017,” said Afsarian. “In my opinion, that final game depends on which team stays focussed throughout the game. The Aces are a very strong team and the match between us always has been close. One mistake from one team could be enough to lose the game.”
They meet Saturday in Richmond.
The South Burnaby Thunderbirds are also playing in the Coastal B Cup u14 boys final, after edging VAFC 1-0. The T-birds will square off against Surrey United on Saturday in Richmond.