Even from thousands of kilometres away, Colleen Gaskell got a good feeling for just what her Moscrop Panthers were going through last Thursday in the inaugural Fraser North District senior boys soccer final.
Gaskell, who was in Manitoba watching her daughter play for Team B.C. at the girls national midget hockey championships, had her phone positively buzzing every time something happened in the soccer final – where Moscrop knocked off the Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils 4-1.
“My phone was just going off,” recalled Gaskell. “They were texting me – goal, goal, goal. I was so happy and nervous.”
The Panthers jumped out to an early lead when Pouria Maghali surprised the Blue Devils’ defenders for the opening goal. The forward would net the next two goals as well, with the Burnaby squad leading 3-0 at halftime.
In the second half, Daniel Milkovic upped the lead to 4-0 before Best countered. Netminder Aqeel Allifdina was sharp in dousing the Blue Devils’ comeback attempts.
Best, who had been slotted No. 2 in B.C. just prior to the game, were unable to contain the No. 4-ranked Panthers during the first half. But the tide shifted somewhat in the second half, with the Blue Devils putting a tighter watch on Maghali, while trying to generate an attack of their own.
“I know (Best) put a lot of pressure up front in the second half, and that’s something we can have a better plan for,” said Gaskell.
“They were marking (Maghali) on what I believe was his hat trick goal, and he went all the way down the field and through a number of players before ripping it in from 23 yards out.”
Best coach Dave Jones, whose team has won a couple of provincial titles over the past six years, was impressed with the Burnaby school’s skill level.
“Moscrop had some strong athletic and technically skilled players,” Jones told the Tri-City News. “Their speed up front was good, which we expected, but our team did not adjust defensively.”
The element of surprise – considering Moscrop didn’t field a senior boys team last year and has never even won a Burnaby-New West league banner before this season – may be over now that the provincials are on the table. The Panthers are seeded in a pool with Oak Bay, LA Matheson and North Peace, and will open Nov. 21 against North Peace (11 a.m.) at Burnaby West complex.
“We have such a good team that it doesn’t matter who is on, who is off, they come to play,” added Gaskell. “The main focus now is showing up – you can’t take anyone lightly because you pretty much need to win every game to get to the next stage.”
She noted the team has the depth and is expecting both Nour Masoud and Pouria’s brother Parsa to be healthy for the three-day tournament.
“Right now, we’re in bonus time. That’s how I see it. I’m so proud that they’ve reached the B.C.s. We’ve got players who are new to the school – new to the country – and from various club programs. It’s just a special team.”