Spartans have extra motivation for July provincials

It wasn’t a result they’d envisioned, but for the next six weeks it will serve as a motivational meal.

The South Burnaby under-15 boys Spartans saw their chase for a Coastal B Cup title fall short in a 2-1 loss to Vancouver United last week, after having posted a string of solid wins to advance to the final.

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Like all good coaches will do, the Spartans’ Yaser Afsarian was able to see the silver lining in the setback, as a means to prepare his boys for the upcoming provincials, July 4 to 7 in Prince George.

“It was a very dramatic season for us,” recalled Afsarian. “We have been one of the better teams over the past few years but we lost so many players (last off-season to promotion, mostly) so it was essentially building a new team.

“It took about eight weeks before we started to see the results but after that rough start they got all the way to silver in league (final), and now Coastal Cup.”

In the Coastal final, the two teams were fairly well matched. Vancouver opened the scoring before the five-minute mark off their first corner kick, and South Burnaby tied it on Sulaiman Refat’s goal.

It went down to the final few minutes, when Vancouver was awarded a free kick outside the box, and the shot ricocheted a couple of times before finding the back of the net. Game over.

“It was one of those fluky things, and we didn’t really have time to push forward,” said the coach. “We couldn’t do anything about it.”

Turning in a strong game from the midfield was Iker Barba.

"(Barba) was very strong for us and controlled the tempo of the game," said Afsarian.

Instead of feeling sad and unfortunate, the team will have a chance at redemption as both teams advance to the provincial cup tournament. The Spartans have been in the final the past two seasons, winning it all in 2017, and falling 2-0 to PoCo last summer.

Those players who were with the program last year will pack with them the memories of that provincial cup loss as motivation. They’ll also be ready again if they have to face Vancouver.

Afsarian said the first focus between now and July is to get his team healthy are recuperated from all the aches and injuries of the past few months.

“Basically, the provincial cup is four days of a game-a-day, so you need to have good energy and be able to play your best on that last day. We’ll have them work on tactical stuff and be as ready as possible.”

Their Coastal journey was perhaps their toughest challenge, a game where they defeated Coquitlam Metro-Ford in penalty kicks. It was followed by a 5-0 breeze against Saanich, before the semifinal that saw them edge Richmond 2-1.

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