League leading Windermere was knocked from the senior boys soccer championship chase Thursday in a 3-1 surprise upset to the Churchill Bulldogs, who the Warriors head coach Phil Sewell said "put up a good scrap."
The Bulldogs entered the playoff fixture with only two wins under their belt and a 2-5-1 regular season record, including an 8-1 loss to Windermere on Oct. 9. The Warriors scored 28 goals in eight regular season games to lead the Vancouver league and sat second in the standings at 6-2-0 behind Kitsilano at 6-1-1.
Sewell said Churchill played a very strong game and that his team suffered from over confidence.
"I was surprised to see we lost. I think they figured it was an easy game and so they took it lightly," said Sewell. "It was a hard-fought game. It's a playoff game and everybody is fighting for their lives."
Churchill opened scoring on a header off a free kick, and Rodni Camayang equalized for Windermere before the end of the half. Camayang was tripped inside the box and made good from the penalty marker to tie the game 1-1.
But the Bulldogs' second goal, said Sewell, was an incredible "rocket" shot from distance. "It was just an unstoppable shot," he said.
Windermere conceded a third goal late in the game when the ball bounced erratically past Warriors goaltender Boris Lau.
Churchill head coach Francois Clark said the Bulldogs reached their potential with the win, "playing intense from start to finish" and relying on key saves from Nicholas Von Hahn in net.
"We played well all year but we always missed something to win more games," said Clark. "They were hungry and we capitalized on the sustained pressure on their defense. Everyone who played gave their best and every player made it count."
The Warriors were further crippled by injuries. Two standout players-Gurpreet Dhillon and Goe Gallo-sat out the quarterfinal, and Sewell won't know until Tuesday if either will play in that afternoon's consolation game.
The Bulldogs advanced to the semi-finals and played top-seeded Kitsilano yesterday after Courier deadlines. Point Grey and Lord Byng meet in the other semi-final Tuesday at Camosun College. The winners play for the Tier I city championship Oct. 25.
The AA Warriors can still advance to the regional Lower Mainland tournament with a fifth-place finish in the city championships, meaning their goal of reaching provincials just one year after winning the Tier II city championship can still be realized. Only teams in the city's Tier I division play for a regional and provincial title.
The Warriors hosted Van Tech Tuesday and a victory would mean they will play either Magee or Eric Hamber Oct. 25 for fifth place. Windermere has beaten both teams.
Despite the early playoff upset, the season isn't over for the Warriors.
"I think we can do it. We definitely have got the ability-we showed it all season long-and the team is definitely strong and going for the win," said the coach, who believes in the talent of his team but is taking nothing for granted.
"On paper we should beat Van Tech, but we should have beat Churchill, too. I don't want to be too confident, too cocky and get carried away," he said. Sewell recognized the support the team has received all season.
"The Windermere support has been fantastic. I know that vuvuzelas bother some people, but I enjoy the fact that the kids and parents are coming out and support the soccer team," he said. firstname.lastname@example.org