More than five months after a Senior AAA boys high school soccer champion was to be crowned, 16 teams from across the province will compete for that championship banner next week at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.
The tournament was to be played Nov. 25-27, but three consecutive days of snow closed the fields, causing tournament organizers to at first postpone several games before eventually opting to cancel the competition entirely.
Local teams in the tournament include the North Delta Huskies, Enver Creek Cougars and Princess Margaret Lions, and all three face the task of coming together as a team after five months apart.
“It hasn’t been difficult pulling this team together at all,” said North Delta coach Gurpaul Sohal. “These boys were very disappointed that they were unable to play the tournament months ago, but are motivated to do well and are preparing accordingly.”
The same 16 teams which qualified for the November tournament will now play May 4-6 to decide a provincial champion. Teams will be divided into four groups of four for round robin play, with group winners advancing to a playoff round.
And while teams are expected to have the same enthusiasm going into the tournament, being at the top of their game as a group will be difficult.
“To combat the long layoff, the boys have taken responsibility for their own fitness and will be ready physically,” said Sohal. “Very few of our players are currently playing club soccer, so some exhibitions would have helped. But every team is on the same situation.”
North Delta enters the tournament as the runner-up team from the Fraser Valley, winning three consecutive games during the 16-team tournament last November, outscoring the opposition 14-3 before dropping a 1-0 decision to the Langley Saints in the championship game.
The Huskies were perfect in regular season play, going 8-0 (won-lost) to finish first in the South Zone standings, scoring 36 goals and conceding just four.
They were five points clear of the 6-1-1 Lions.
Enver Creek was the runner-up team in the West Zone with a 6-2-1 record. The Cougars placed fourth, with Princess Margaret qualifying with a fifth place finish at the Fraser Valley tournament. Both teams won three of five games.