Either Vancouer No. 4 or No. 6 will be crowned the best senior boys soccer team in the city. Three points separated the top four teams in the senior boys soccer league, and the tables were so tight this fall, all but one of those teams has been knocked out of the playoffs.
Coaches say they can’t remember a season with a tighter field.
“Really, any of the five teams that go through to the next phase of the Lower Mainland championships could beat one another on a given day,” said Andy Johnston, the head coach of the Lord Byng Grey Ghosts who finished sixth and advanced to compete in the final at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Magee secondary.
Kitsilano and Point Grey tied for first with parallel 4-1-1 records and 13 points apiece. In their one meeting, there was no score after 90 minutes and a shootout gave Point Grey the win, which had repercussions at the end of the season and put the Grey Hounds into top place heading into the playoffs.
Hamber (4-2) followed with 12 points and Churchill (3-2-1) was next with 10 points. Lord Byng’s losing record of 1-4-1 and four points didn’t stop the upstart from surging ahead.
Churchill’s route though the playoffs started against Van Tech (1-4-1) and the Bulldogs won 2-0. They advanced to the semi-finals against Kitsilano and the game was scoreless after regulation time. Churchill won in a shootout, knocking the 2012 defending city championship from the final.
In the post-season, Lord Byng defeated Eric Hamber 4-1 Oct. 15 then two days later upset No. 1 Point Grey 1-0 on the Grey Hounds’ own turf.
The Hamber Griffins were justifiably highly ranked, said Byng’s Johnston. “Hamber had outplayed us, defeating us 2-0 during league play. In the playoff game at their park, again they looked the better team in the early going but we scored and suddenly we took back a lot of the play.”
In an email to the Courier, Johnston outlined the four key factors for Byng’s late-season surge. This timely “soccer renaissance” comes from dedication to team play and “a commitment to play at the level that we know we can play at having been at the B.C. Championships last year.”
The return of Ben Houtman was also fine timing as well as tightening up the back end while managing to score goals at the offensive end.
“Despite having some talented returning Grade 11s from last year, we struggled to score goals which I thought would be one of our strengths this year as last year's graduating players were my stronger defensive players. However, we only scored four goals in six regular season games and three of those were against Churchill,” said Johnston.”
The top five AAA Vancouver teams advance to the zone tournament where they meet two Richmond teams and a Vancouver private school team.
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