BURNABY – Panorama Ridge’s boys soccer captain Kerman Pannu must have been pinching himself all weekend. He scored all goals in the Thunder’s 3-0 Triple a provincial championship victory over defending champions Sutherland Secondary on Saturday (Nov. 22).
"That’s something you dream of," said the tournament’s most valuable player. "Get a hat trick in the final and take your shirt off. When it actually happened, I was 100 per cent (sure) it was coming off."
Panorama Ridge went through the five-game tournament conceding only one goal in their 2-1 semifinal win over neighbours and Fraser Valley champions Tamanawis Secondary.
"It really speaks to the true quality, not only on our back line and our keeper, but our whole team," said head coach Paul Nowakowski.
Nowakowski said he was extremely proud of the team for their defensive display and for the journey the players went on after finishing fifth last year.
"We went through ups and downs … but it only made our team stronger. and for it to pay off here on this field today against the defending champions, I couldn’t be more happy for the guys," the coach added.
The Thunder finished third in the Valley, but added former Whitecaps residency defender Manraj Bains to their roster prior to the provincial championships.
The first marker didn’t come until first-half injury time when Pannu scored a top-drawer direct free kick from just outside the 18-yard box.
Twenty-five minutes into the second half, the skipper added his second goal on a Panorama Ridge counter attack that ended with Pannu getting his head on the end of a cross and placing it in the top right-hand corner of the goal.
Pannu, who’s committed to playing for the UBC Thunderbirds next season, completed his hat trick two minutes before the final whistle, when he scored another header from an out-swinging corner kick.
"All three goals were world class," Nowakowski said.
In their loss to the eventual champions, Tamanawis Wildcats had a man sent off after a second yellow card early in the second half.
They were also leading the game 1-0, but allowed two goals once they went down to 10 men.
Tamanawis finished in fourth place after losing 4-0 in the bronze-medal game against Dr. Charles Best.
Earl Marriott, which finished fifth in the Fraser Valley, finished in the same spot in provincials after beating Sullivan Heights after the scoreless game went to a penalty shootout. The Mariners won 4-3 on penalties.
Tyler Ginthir, Earl Marriott’s head coach, said it was a good way for his seniors to end their high school playing days.
"They’ve played together on club teams since they were kids," Ginthir said. "It was good to bring it together in their last year and have a good result like this."
Sullivan Stars coach Gary atwal arguably had the toughest test of all the Surrey teams, having been put in the same group as Sutherland, Reynolds and Mount Baker – all teams, like the Stars, who were at the provincials last year.
"We’re kind of disappointed not to get to the top four, but after we lost a heartbreaker to Sutherland, our boys regrouped well to make sure they got to the fifth-place game," he said.
Despite not making a semifinal appearance, the Stars coach is proud of the team he’s had for five consecutive years.
"(I’ve) seen them go from little boys to men ready to leave high school. I’m proud of them," atwal added.