It wasn’t a sixth sense that kept the Burnaby Mountain Lions on an uphill drive, despite being underdogs in nearly every big test during a short senior boys high school soccer season.
While the squad brought an awareness and intuition for the game every time, it was their dedication and determination that carried them to sixth place last week at the B.C. championship tournament in Burnaby.
Although they lost their final match, 2-0 to 2017 B.C. champion Dr. Charles Best, the Lions exited the pitch after coming within a goal of a semifinal berth and represented their school and community well.
“There are no stars on this team,” coach Glenn Boyle told the NOW via email. “They always played for each other and put themselves through a lot to even get to provincials. Their heart and determination allowed them to compete against anyone, and they can be proud of their achievements.”
Prior to the start of their final match, the Lions lost two of their four starting defenders. It added to the challenge but didn’t deter the squad – which features 13 of 22 players from the Grade 11 and 10 ranks.
Burnaby Mountain opened with a 1-1 draw with Royal Bay, followed by a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Heritage Woods.
On the second day against undefeated Abbotsford, the Lions needed a win to place first overall in their grouping, and did bury one in the second half, only to have it called back due to offside.
“This was a must-win game for us to win the group and play for a medal. Abbotsford only needed to draw but had some dangerous attacking players.
“We knew it would be a tight game, with one goal probably being enough for either team,” said Boyle, who was supported by assistant coach Frank Valente.
In the second game of the day, and with no medal in their future, the Lions could have stalled and slumped. But to their credit, they came out fired up and delivered their best performance of the tourney in a 2-0 shutout over the Terry Fox Ravens.
Goals by Ryan Roberts, off a free kick midway through the second half, and Ojas Dabir gave Burnaby the lead.
“We had to bury our disappointment and re-focus quickly to play against a technically strong and athletic team,” said Boyle. “We played with great determination and discipline.”
Although the Best result marred what had been an undefeated run at the provincials, Boyle said the overall experience was rewarding, with the team earning the Fair Play Award and Daniel Valente selected to the Commissioner’s 11 all-star team.