Some teams are known for turning it on late. Others are all about a good start.
Like the power of a good breakfast, the South Burnaby Metro under-14 boys Thunderbirds are all about being prepared early.
If the early bird gets the worm, the quick-starting soccer team usually comes out with the gold.
The Thunderbirds completed the season at the pinnacle, capturing the Les Sinnott Provincial B Cup banner last week, blanking archrival Surrey United Impact 3-0 in the showdown final in Prince George.
An early goal – true to the team’s theme – set the tone, as South Burnaby exacted revenge for a pair of previous losses to Surrey.
David Cindric, Will Gallant, and David Trinidad supplied the offence, while netminder Stefan Stojanovic continued to put up a wall in registering his third straight shutout.
“The key word we used as part of our game plan was ‘early.’ It required our players to have game awareness to be able to make an early pass to a teammate or to open space,” noted assistant coach Miroslav Stojanovic of the team’s strategy. “We took advantage of having one of the fastest strikers in the province – Dave Trinidad. He would frequently outrun the opposition.”
When the rivals double- and triple-teamed him, it created space for Cindric, the T-birds other striker, to make things happen.
They’d began their march in Prince George with a 10-1 triumph over Kootenay South, leading by five before the first half was finished. The team respectfully didn’t celebrate the following goals as a show of sportsmanship.
In their next test, they stopped Kamloops 3-0, and wrapped up pool play with a 6-0 decision over Gorge-Lakehill.
Having tasted defeat at the hands of Surrey United in the Coastal B Cup final, by a 4-2 margin two months ago, the team was well-motivated to play for the title.
The T-birds had taken a longer path to the B.C. final, after losing the Burnaby Cup to Cliff Avenue, but securing a wildcard berth to the Coastal tourney where they proceeded to eliminate the local league champions.
It all came together from there – with an early jump.
The South Burnaby Thunderbirds lineup includes: Raeen Azarpisheh, Adnan Chahin, Mayank Chopra, David Cindric, Will Gallant, Yasbrat Habtamu, Mohamed Heidari, Aleksandar Kos, Laslo Lorenzi, Family Mvano, Andrew Orr, Matiss Osborne, Aleksander Petkovic, Samuel Srobotnjak, Stefan Stojanovic, David Trinidad, Santiago Valenzuela and Alex Wang; coaches were Calvin Osborne, Ajit Braich and Miroslav Stojanovic.
Gold was the colour they were aiming for. And if not for another colour – red – the South Burnaby u15 boys Spartans may have had a chance to reach it.
South Burnaby wrapped up the Les Sinnott u15 boys provincial B cup championships on Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Aces in the bronze medal match.
But it was the team’s second game of pool play – a 2-1 loss to the Nelson Selects – that tossed them off course.
The Spartans, who entered the tourney with a reduced roster due to a family wedding, had already suffered a couple of bad injuries in the opening 3-1 victory over Terrace. Two players required visits to the local hospital as a result.
Against Nelson, the short bench proved an extra burden after one South Burnaby player was red carded just before halftime, forcing the team to play a man short and with no spares.
Despite that, the Spartans kept it close and were deadlocked until late in the second half when Nelson netted the winner.
“There wasn’t much time to push up,” recalled coach Yaser Afsarian. “The boys didn’t give up. After the game they were all sore and injured and talking about next season. They want to win.”
Showing great resilience, South Burnaby bounced back with a 2-1 win over Powell River, thanks to a brilliant long strike by Justin Lee.
Against the Aces, Muhammad Alabdily registered both markers.
The players want to turn this experience into something really positive next season, Afsarian said.
“I believe we were one of the strongest teams in the (u15) tournament but in our pool they were all good teams,” he noted. “We had to play really well to get out; we just had some bad luck.”
The team was grateful for the sponsorship help from Legion 83, South Burnaby Metro Soccer and local businesses to make the trek to Prince George.