Sports

Cup claimed by Falcons

Shakeel Ikbal (right) and a Comox Valley High Voltage opponent kick at the ball during the boys under-13 Coastal Cup B final Sunday in Coquitlam. Whalley won 2-1. - COLLEEN FLANAGAN / BLACK PRESS
Shakeel Ikbal (right) and a Comox Valley High Voltage opponent kick at the ball during the boys under-13 Coastal Cup B final Sunday in Coquitlam. Whalley won 2-1.
— image credit: COLLEEN FLANAGAN / BLACK PRESS

The Whalley Falcons capped a near-perfect run through league and cup play last weekend in Coquitlam.

The boys under-13 soccer team edged the Comox Valley High Voltage 2-1 in the Coastal B Cup final Sunday at Percy Perry Stadium in Coquitlam. In eight league games and seven more in cup competition, the Falcons failed to win just one game – earning a tie in league play back in September.

“Most of the kids have been playing together as a team for six or seven years,” said coach Manjit Dhaliwal. “This year, they just gelled at the right time.”

The Falcons were the dominant team in Sunday’s Coastal Cup final, said Dhaliwal, and were unfortunate not to net more than two goals. Kevin Raj got the first goal 20 minutes into the game, and Manny Bains added the eventual winner 15 minutes into the second half.

Comox got one back with two minutes to play, finally finding a way to get a ball behind Falcons netminder Sachandeep Dhaliwal.

“We had so many chances, we just couldn’t score,” said Dhaliwal. “The boys kept missing the net.”

Outstanding performances came from Marinder Johal at centre midfield and Shakeel Ikbal at central defender. And Dhaliwal credited Saagar Kumar for his play throughout the season.

“He’s our most talented kid,” said Dhaliwal. “He makes plays that just blow my mind.”

- The Guildford Azores made the difficult decision last summer to make the jump to the Gold division for their under-15 season.

Then they proved it was the right call, claiming the Coastal B Cup Saturday with a 1-0 shootout win over the Fraser Valley.

“We built the team on a friendship model. Players have been friends with each other – and the families have known each other – for years,” said Azores coach Chris Coady. “We don’t cut players. Once they are on the team, players don’t have to try out for the team each year.

“So to get to this level with that process is pretty gratifying.”

The Azores went 6-3-1 (won-lost-tied) in league play, and won three straight one-goal games in the Surrey District playoff. And in Coastal Cup play, the Guildford team won four more games, three by a single goal.

“It was our first year at the Gold level, we finished fourth in the division and won the Coastal Cup, so it was a pretty good year,” said Coady. “The games we lost in league play were heartbreakers, but we learned from them. Then we made the charge late in the season, when the games really counted.”

Azores goalie Carson Ford, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the game, stopped three of five penalty shots from the Fraser Valley side during the shootout. Meanwhile, Tristan Nelson, Clint Luz and Stephen Zhao converted their chances from the penalty spot for the victory.

Highlights for the Azores team included strong defensive performances by Hayden Coady, Jordy Rosode, Karim Abdulwahab and Matt Wereschuk, while forward Mitch Comeau was dangerous in the offensive zone throughout the game.

- Five of the six age groups in the girls Coastal Cup A competition will have Surrey teams playing in a final this weekend at Percy Perry Stadium.

The teams competing – with the date and opponent for the final – include the under-13 Surrey United Talons (Sunday at 9:30 a.m. against the Semiahmoo Thunder); the under-14 Surrey United Selects (Saturday at noon against Cliff Avenue United); the under-15 Surrey FC Pegasus (Saturday at 10 a.m. against the North Shore Reign); the under-16 Sur-Del Sting (Sunday at 11 a.m. against Burnaby United); and the under-17 SBAA Nitro Elite (Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Coquitlam Metro-Ford Attack).

All finalists advance to the provincial championship tournament in July, along with the third place teams in each age group. The Surrey United Rage lost in the semifinal round of the under-18 Coastal Cup tournament, but could still qualify for the provincials with a win Sunday against Langley FC Metro.

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