The Upper Island U-15 boys soccer team came up one game short of repeating as provincial champions, but found a silver lining, and silver medals, in a 1-0 loss to the Delta Selects in the final of the Provincial A Cup Championships July 12 in Surrey.
The Riptide also fell to Delta, 3-1, in round-robin qualification, but defeated the Kamloops Blaze and Surrey Guildford to earn the rematch in the final.
“We have nothing to be sad about; no ones chin should be down,” said Bruce Mitchell, Riptide head coach. “Two years in a row we have made it the provincial championships. Two years in a row we have made it to the gold medal game. We leave here with a gold medal and a silver to show for all our work and effort.
“This is a remarkable accomplishment and one that many can only dream of.”
Delta escaped a tight, defensive game in the final when a long through pass eluded a Riptide defender and settled on the foot of an attacker in stride for a low, 18-yard drive to the back of the net in the 50th minute.
The Riptide earned the finals berth in a win-or-go-home showdown with perennial rival Surrey Guildford, the host club. A high-arching shot by Tanner Kempe just before the half put the Riptide on the board and set the tone for the second half, in which Eugene Park added a goal in the 60th minute to push the lead to 2-0.
Surrey pushed back for a score to draw to 2-1, but the Riptide back row of John Samuels, Shohei Iwamoto, Dylan Robertson, and Brook Gronemeyer held firm and Port Hardy’s Jaylon Grenier closed the game with an insurance goal in the dying minutes.
The Riptide opened the tourney on Thursday against the Kamloops Blaze in a rematch of last year’s provincial championship final, and the result was much the same. The high-intensity game turned on a free kick by Shohei Iwamoto of Quadra Island, who struck a beautiful arcing ball from 45 yards into the box. The ball bounced off a defender’s head and over the outstretched arms of the keeper for an own goal. Jared Perras and Gary Thiara shared the shutout in net.
On Friday, the Riptide met Delta, the top-rated team from Vancouver who also won the Coastal Cup earlier in the spring.
Two early goals off of a corner and free kick put Delta up 2-0. A third from open play in the second half sealed the Riptide’s fate. A consolation goal by Riptide player Darren Hall made the final score 3-1.
That set up Saturday’s must-win match against Surrey Guildford.
The Under-15 Upper Island Riptide Boys Soccer Team plays in the Vancouver Island Premier League (VIPL).
The team is comprised of players from the Comox Valley, Campbell River, Quadra Island, Port Hardy, and Powell River.