Reports of a giant, 10-ton gorilla wandering around Newton were no cause for alarm last weekend.
The beast is searching for a new home after ICST Pegasus shook the ape off their collective backs with a critical 2-0 win over Croatia in the club’s final game of the VMSL premier season.
The victory meant more than just three points in the standings as it delivered the Horsemen from relegation zone purgatory and assured them of a spot in the VMSL’s premier tables for another season.
“That was massive, just massive,” said Pegasus manager Paul Sandhu. “It takes a huge weight off of our shoulders. We are
now safe; we’re good. That win solidified our spot in the premier division for next year. It’s hard to say we enjoyed finishing in 10th place because that’s not normally something we strive for, but this season we’ll take it.
With the team we have now, hopefully we can take a serious run at the Imperial Cup and then, if we get in, at the Provincial Cup.”
After struggling for most of the first half of the campaign, Pegasus found themselves at the bottom of the standings at the beginning of February and facing the very real possibility that they would call the first division home in the fall.
With their backs to the wall and new coach Paul Bahia calling the shots, the Horsemen have played their best soccer of the season. In their last three games, all must-win encounters, Pegasus has nabbed
all nine points available while outscoring their opponents 11-1. In Sunday evening’s capper against Croatia at Newton Athletic Park, took control right from the opening whistle as Azad Palani netted his first goal of the season less than five minutes after play commenced. Palani liked the feeling so much he scored again three minutes into the second half before the Pegasus defence took over for the remainder of the contest.
With their fate for next season decided, the Horsemen will now turn their attention to earning a berth in the Provincial Cup. Most 10th place teams have no chance of making an appearance in the annual soccer showcase, but the Pegasus revival coincided neatly with the beginning of the Imperial Cup playdowns. Pegasus is undefeated in
that competition and will play Columbus in Imperial Cup semifinals Saturday at 4 p.m. at Trillium Park in Vancouver.
The two finalists in the Imperial Cup are guaranteed a spot in the Provincial Cup tourney so the Horsemen are once again in a win-or-go-home situation.
“This is the biggest game of the year for us; it’s do or die,” Sandhu said. “Win and we’re in, lose and we’re done and our season’s over. We know what is at stake and we’re going to leave everything on the field. The boys are all really positive about themselves right now. They feel good and they’ve been working hard. Even when we were struggling, the guys all worked hard in training and they never gave up. They believed in themselves and they got themselves out of this mess.”