Sports

Ajax ousts Abbotsford

Jolene Philips of SBAA Ajax (left) tangles with Ashley Yeamans during a Provincial Cup game Sunday in Cloverdale. Ajax advanced to the quarterfinal round with a 3-0 victory. - PHOTO CREDIT
Jolene Philips of SBAA Ajax (left) tangles with Ashley Yeamans during a Provincial Cup game Sunday in Cloverdale. Ajax advanced to the quarterfinal round with a 3-0 victory.
— image credit: PHOTO CREDIT

A season of learning from losses against some of the best club teams in the province has paid off for the SBAA Ajax.

The first-year Premier division team in the Metro Women’s Soccer League (MWSL) opened Provincial Cup play Sunday with a 3-0 win over the Abbotsford Mariners at Don Christian Park.

“Today, they showed up and stuck to it,” said Ajax head coach Tom Kristensen. “I think they’re at a stage where they’ve taken their beatings and have figured out it’s not going to be easy.”

Winners of just four of 15 league games this past season, Ajax took control of Sunday’s game midway through the first half. Alexis Heinz fed the ball to Whitney Agazza at the top of the 18-yard box, who then fired a shot off the foot of the Mariners goalie into the goal.

Reduced to 10 players in the second half due to an injury, Abbotsford couldn’t keep pace with the Surrey squad.

Stacey Lewis netted an insurance goal for Ajax 10 minutes after the break, jumping on a loose ball in the penalty area and drilling it past the netminder. She added her second goal of the game three minutes later, curling a shot from the right wing over the goalie and just under the cross bar.

Ajax had a couple of other scoring chances in the final half hour, but couldn’t add to the lead. But they didn’t need to.

Kristensen was pleased to see Ajax play a strong game from start to finish, something that didn’t happen often enough in league play.

“I’m just glad they played consistently,” he said. “Consistency has been our biggest concern for the most part of the season. We worry about certain teams, but we worry more about our ability to show up week in and week out.”

Ajax will now have to show up in Victoria next Sunday, when they will play Gorge FC in a quarterfinal game. Gorge FC finished first in the Lower Island Women’s Soccer League, winning 15 and tying one in 16 games, conceding just three goals.

“If we play for each other and we’re consistent, we can make things difficult for them,” said Kristensen. “I’m definitely not predicting we’re going to go over and play giant-killer just yet. But if we show up and want to play, we can make life difficult for them.”

Ajax is one of three Surrey teams in the final eight of the provincial tournament. Both Surrey United and Pegasus Alumni FC received a first round bye, and will host MWSL rivals in the quarterfinal round Sunday.

United, the four-time defending Provincial Cup champions and this season’s league cup champions, will kick off against NorVan at 10 a.m. at Cloverdale Athletic Park. NorVan finished in the MWSL basement, winning just one of 15 games.

Pegasus will be at Newton Athletic Park at 3 p.m. Sunday against Coquitlam FC. Pegasus placed second in the MWSL Premier Division, three places ahead of Coquitlam.

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