Remembering what had happened a year ago, the Panorama Ridge Thunder weren’t about a provincial championship slip away for the second consecutive season.
The Surrey school cruised to five consecutive wins at the B.C. Senior AAA high school boys soccer tournament in Burnaby Nov. 20-22, clinching a provincial championship with a 3-0 victory over the Sutherland Sabres in the final.
“We won the Fraser Valley championships last year, but finished fifth at the provincials,” said Thunder coach Paul Nowakowski. “It was bittersweet because we didn’t lose a game last year, but lost a shootout. It’s an unforgiving format, and the boys knew that going into this year’s tournament.”
Panorama Ridge left little to chance in the tournament. They won all three round robin games by 2-0 scores to finish atop their group and advance to the semifinal round. After a close 2-1 victory over Surrey rival Tamanawis Wildcats, they dominated Sutherland.
Captain Kerman Pannu, a Grade 12 student playing in his final high school soccer game, scored all three goals for the Thunder, with Jas Lally earning the shutout.
“Jas was remarkable all tournament,” said Nowakowski, who shared the coaching chores with Darryl Vanderark and Sunny Deol. “He made some major saves and won the top goalie award.”
Lally gave up just one goal in the tournament, which put the Thunder behind in a game for the only time.
“Tamanawis gave us a good run, they were up 1-0 against us in the semifinal,” said Nowakowski. “It was the only goal we gave up all tournament, and it was interesting to see how we would respond. The boys did a great job, they responded very well in the second half.”
Tamanawis won the Fraser Valley zone tournament, defeating the Sullivan Heights Stars 2-0 in the final, but the Wildcats settled for fourth at the provincial competition. After their loss to the Thunder, they lost4-0 to the Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils of Coquitlam in the bronze medal match.
“I am proud of the boys and their strong play in the provincials and the Fraser Valley title,” said Wildcats coach Paul Rai. “We continued to get stronger over the five-game tournament, but met a strong Panorama Ridge team in the semifinal.
“Gurpreet Hundal was runner-up for the Golden Boot award (most goals scored) and Sean Tahvilli stood out, even though he is a Junior playing on a Senior team.”
Four Surrey schools placed in the top six at the 16-team tournament.
Both the Earl Marriott Mariners and Sullivan Heights placed second in their respective groups in the round robin. The Stars defeated the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs 4-3 in their first consolation playoff game, while Earl Marriott stopped the St. George’s Saints 3-1.
The Mariners then shutout Sullivan Heights 1-0 in the fifth/sixth playoff.