One team has the experience of being there may times before, the other is making its first appearance in almost a decade.
But the fact that the Surrey United Soccer Club has qualified both its men’s and women’s team for the national championship tournament this weekend in Winnipeg is a rare feat for a group that has been seeking the “double” for a decade.
“It’s an honour to have both teams here,” said United club executive director Martin Foden yesterday from Winnipeg, an hour before the men played their first game. “It’s a unique accomplishment, something we’ve been waiting for for a number of years.”
Surrey United won the Provincial Cup men’s soccer tournament in 2003, advancing to the nationals as B.C. champions.
A year later, the United women’s team did the same. The difference is, the women have won every Provincial Cup title since. The men didn’t win a second title until doing so last spring.
Now both are in Winnipeg, giving their club a rare chance to win a pair of national championships.
But Foden knows winning either one will be a difficult task.
“It’s tough competition,” he said. “And we know the quality of the opposition will be good. Every team is here because they are a provincial champion. There are no easy games.”
Surrey won its first game Wednesday, getting goals from Colin Streckmann, Steve McAuley and Ryan Reynolds in a 3-1 win over the defending national champion Hellas SC of Winnipeg.
The women’s tournament has two groups of five teams each, with round robin play taking place the first five days of the competition. The two first place teams will play for the national championship and the Jubilee Trophy Monday at 9:30 a.m. (CDT).
Surrey United is the defending national champion, and is in a group with the WSA North Stars of Manitoba, the Edmonton Angels, Yellowknife FC, and Saskatchewan.
United won their first game Wednesday, blanking the host WSA North Stars 5-0. Nicole Stewart scored twice in the first half, then April Coffin, Katie Thorlakson and Julia Lauzon added one each in the second half.
“Overall it was a good match,” said United head coach Jeff Clarke. “The first 15-25 minutes were quite frantic, but then we got a couple of good goals and settled down.”
The men’s team will compete for the Challenge Trophy. United is in a group that also includes Hells SC of Manitoba, and Edmonton Scottish. Two of the three teams will advance to the eight-team playoff Saturday through Monday.
– Surrey United also has two youth teams at national championship tournaments.
At the under-14 boys tournament in Vaughn, Ontario, United will kickoff against Mount Pearl of Newfoundland and Labrador today (Thursday), before their second and final round robin game Friday against Lanaudiere-Centre of Quebec.
Two of the three teams advance to the eight-team playoff round Saturday through Monday.
United is also represented at the under-16 boys competition in Charlottetown, PEI.
Surrey began round robin play with a 4-0 victory over Newfoundland and Labrador on Wednesday morning.
Joel Waterman, Kyle Sohi, Manveer Dhillon and Mathew Bains scored for Surrey. United will play three more round robin games, needing to finish first in a group that also includes teams from Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan to play in Monday’s championship game.
United is halfway there after a 3-2 victory over Bravaes D’Ahuntsic of Quebec. Sohi, Amritpal Jagdeo and Brar Dilpreet were the goal scorers.