2019 BC Mens Provincial U21 Cup

Canucks4Ever

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As always, there is a host of new teams participating in the U21 Cup. That being said, perennial contenders and defending champions West Van FC are back in the competition this season and are one of the seeded teams who have a bye in the first round. The kids get largely ignored during the season as few are hooked into the social side of the local soccer scene, plus the players in the leagues seem to get younger and younger each season; especially as more and more academy sides are entering teams as a way to get matches for their young charges. This season saw TSS do just that and that has brought some increased attention to this age group with some of the most loyal supporters of their PDL franchise keeping tabs on the youngsters. In another new twist for this season, the FVSL chose not to run a U21 division with only four teams, instead opting to put those sides in their various open divisions for league play. We shall see if that makes them any more prepared to compete with the Province's best at this level.

Standard Disclaimer:
For those not familiar with my column, I am largely just pulling this stuff out of thin air. I try to find whatever information is readily available online, but ultimately I am just trying to generate some interest in local soccer in BC. If I have omitted or overlooked facts that you consider relevant to your team or league, it's not done intentionally...get over it...;)

Completely Baseless Predictions
Men’s U21 Doug Day Provincial Cup
Preliminary Round:


Greater Vancouver United (VMSL)
v Cowichan United (VISL) - Sunday 1:15pm @ Newton Athletic #4, Surrey
A fairly even draw for these two sides. With VMSL U21 title winners and defending U21 Provincial Champions West Van awaiting the winner, this is likely going to be a fairly short tournament for both these sides. Both teams were mid-table and both ended up with negative goal differences. Neither team boasts a prolific scorer either, so it sets up as a toss up. Like many matches this time of year, the travel factor must be considered. With most of the other stats cancelling each other out between these two teams, I will give it to the home side.

Langley United U21 (VMSL) v Prospect Lake Lakers (VISL) - Saturday 3:00pm @ Willoughby Turf #3, Langley
Likely the Match of the Round here with the two second place sides from their respective leagues. Langley, who opted for the VMSL over the FVSL, were close runners up to powerhouse West Van, ultimately losing out by just four points. Prospect Lake were even closer on the Island, as they saw Mid-Isle take the VISL title on goal difference alone. The road does not get much easier after this either, with the winner facing a trip to the aforementioned Mid-Isle and West Van also lurking in the top half of draw. By comparison, the bottom half is fairly wide open, but, alas, there is not changing fate for these two sides now. The two leading goal scorers in their leagues will lock horns as well in this match, so you would expect to see some goals. Kobe Dheensaw had 11 goals in 17 for the Lakers while Brody Thomas had an electric 22 in 18 for Langley. United also lead the VMSL with a ridiculous 77 goals on the season. That kind of offensive potential combined with the fact that Prospect Lake will have to combat the travel factor coming to the Mainland and you have to give Langley the edge.

Castaways FC (VISL) v BCT Tigers U21 (VMSL) - Sunday 2:30pm @ Topaz-Finlayson Turf, Victoria
Travel is also a concern in this match, though, of all the Island against Mainland match ups, this one might have the greatest potential of going the way of the away side. BCT Tigers don't exactly strike fear in the hearts of their opponents after their fourth place finish. However, they did reach the U21 Cup final, losing narrowly to TSS, so they clearly know how to win in knockout competitions. Castaways are at home, but they are the VISL final entrant. They too finished fourth in their league, but posted a -18 goal difference and allowed a league worst 41 goals against. That is hardly a recipe for success, especially when it comes to knockout games. It will depend on what kind of team Tigers can get to Victoria on the weekend, but, if they field a full squad, there is every reason for them to be confident of their chances to progress from this one.

Westcoast FC United U21 (FVSL) v Faly Academy (VMSL) - Saturday 5:00pm @ Pitt Meadows Secondary, Pitt Meadows
What would the Provincial Cup be without at least one FVSL against VMSL match up. Faly Academy were brash upstarts last season, just missing out on the league title. This year did not bring the same level of success as they were a distant third place, ten points back of second place Langley and 14 back of league winners West Van. Westcoast played their league games in Division 3 and finished a very respectable second place. Both teams have players that can put the ball in the back of the net with Faly boasting 16 goal man Tarr Wonder while Westcoast counter with Bela Piocza and Ryan Cordoni who scored 14 and 12 respectively. Westcoast's only head to head match ups with other U21 sides this season saw them beat a pair of teams that spent the year playing in Division 1. They needed a shootout to get by Surrey United but looked great beating Abbotsford last weekend 4-0 in the FVSL U21 Cup Final. That should see them come into this match with some fairly solid momentum. Conversely, Faly have not played many games recently. Their league play finished in January and they then had a long lay off until cup play began at the start of March. They needed a shootout to advance to the semis where they lost 5-4 and drew 1-1 with TSS to get eliminated 6-5 on aggregate. That was fully a month ago, so it remains to be seen how sharp Faly are coming into this one. There is also the fact that they have only won a lone game in 2019, back on January 12 when they beat second bottom Snipers. It has been losses and draws the rest of the way because, as mentioned, they were only able to advance in the cup via a shootout. Now, there is always the "VMSL factor" lurking in the back ground, which means you cannot rule out the chance that Faly end up being just that much better than Westcoast. However, I will take the hot hands in this one and say Westcoast ride the wave from their U21 Cup win to advance to the last eight.
 

Canucks4Ever

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Underscoring just how little anyone pays attention to the kids these days, I was a woeful 25% in the opening round. Perhaps with the "seeded" teams entering the tournament my record will improve...

Completely Baseless Predictions
Men’s U21 Doug Day Provincial Cup

Preliminary Round: 1/4
Overall: 1/4

West Van FC U21 (VMSL) v Greater Vancouver United (VMSL) - Saturday 3:30pm @ Ambleside D, West Vancouver
The VMSL champions, West Van, will need to overcome a long layoff if they are to try and defend their U21 Provincial title. West Van have not played since they were bounced from the VMSL's U21 cup on March 26. Despite finishing well below the league winners from Ambleside, Greater Vancouver were able to slip past Island opponents Cowichan at home in the first round. They will not have home field advantage this time around though as they will be heading out under the Lions Gate for this one. Greater Vancouver will be hoping that having played, and won, a match this month will give them an edge and they did in fact split the season series with West Van, handing them their only league loss of the season. Can lightning strike twice? Perhaps, but give the dual title holders the edge for sure.

Mid-Isle Mariners (VISL) v Prospect Lake Lakers (VISL) - Saturday 12:00pm @ Forrest Field, Ladysmith
This domestic Island match up is definitely the Match of the Round as these two sides finished level on points and tied for top spot in the VISL. Mid-Isle got the edge based on goal difference and, therefore, a bye through the first round. However, Prospect lake showed their quality in negotiating a tricky trip to the Mainland to overcome VMSL runners up Langley Utd. U21. In three meetings this year the two sides were dead even with a win, a loss and a draw, though in keeping with the theme, Mid-Isle edged things on aggregate. This one is a complete toss up and should be a great contest between two sides that know each other well. One thing to note though is that Prospect Lake have perhaps a slight edge in the goal scoring department. Kobe Dheenshaw, Nicholas Khal and Julian Dosanjh all sit in the top five of VISL scoring, with Dheenshaw leading the league on 11 goals. The Mariners only have Juan Rubiano and his nine goals inside the top five, so we will see if that plays a factor in this one. I will call a minor upset here though and say that now that the Lakers have a taste for the tournament, they ride a wave of momentum to another win.

Abbotsford United U21 (FVSL) v Castaways FC (VISL) - Sunday 4:00pm @ Matsqui Turf #2, Abbotsford
Only one match this round features a travel factor and it has Castaways hopping the ferry to make the long trek out to the Fraser Valley to play Abbotsford United. It was a rather anti-climactic end to the season for Abbotsford who, after playing their league games in Division 1, were put to the sword by "Division 3" side Westcoast in the FVSL U21 Cup final. Fortunately, not only do they have the travel factor in their favour, but Castaways were also the lowest VISL side to qualify for the tournament. They did, however, see off VMSL U21 Cup runners up BCT Tigers in the first round; so clearly they are capable of a result. That was as home though, and a long travel day can often trip up the best of teams. Based on how they are limping into this tournament, there are not many teams Abby would be favoured over, but a home draw against Castaways have to be one of them.

TSS FC U21 (VMSL) v Faly Academy (VMSL) - Friday 6:30pm @ Minoru #2, Minoru
A great domestic match up here between TSS, the VMSL U21 Cup champions, and Faly Academy, the team they beat over two legs to get there. It was a rather pedestrian season for TSS in terms of league play, but they turned it on come cup season and, spurred on by a devoted faction of TSS Rovers supports, rose to the summit. No doubt that support will be on full display for this match, however, they will still have to deal with Faly's potent offense. Despite a decent stretch without a match, the Academy showed no signs of rust in front of goal, producing a sublime performance in outlasting Westcoast 5-4 in their opener. This is another match that is a toss up and either side are capable of advancing. Given the bottom half of the draw in this competition is arguably slightly weaker than the top, whoever wins this one will surely have designs on reaching the final. As for a prediction I will tip TSS with their smoke flare bearing fans to get another solid win for this franchise, and really who wouldn't want to see them and their fans in Nanaimo for the final?
 
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Marginal improvement for my record in the kids competition going for 50% in the previous round. A pair of Island teams remain as they look to ensure some level of home league participation come the final in Nanaimo. Could it possibly be an all VISL final? Or will it be a pair of VMSL teams making the journey across the straight of Georgia? Or perhaps one of each...

Completely Baseless Predictions
Men’s U21 Doug Day Provincial Cup

Quarter Finals: 2/4
Overall: 3/8

West Van FC U21 (VMSL) v Prospect Lake Lakers (VISL) - Saturday 3:00pm @ Ambleside D, West Vancouver
Easily the Match of the Round here with VMSL and defending Provincial Champions, West Van hosting Prospect Lake who, for all intents and purposes, finished tied for the VISL title. The Lakers look good at the minute. They have already traveled to the mainland in the first round of this tournament and beat VMSL runners up Langley United 3-2. They then exercised their demons in the last round by pummeling the team that edged them on goal difference for the league crown, Mid-Isle, 3-0 to book their place in the semi finals. Prospect Lake look irresistible at the minute but West Van are a different beast. They have allowed on 9 goals against over three competitions this season, including their opening 3-0 win last time out over Greater Vancouver United, and have only lost two games all year. Not to mention they have a cast of returning characters from last seasons BC Championship side, including leading scorer Chase Taylor-Robbins, who scored 8 for the U21s during league play. Prospect Lake will not fear anyone after the scalps they have claimed already in this competition, especially with a chance to play for the silverware at home on the Island. They will be more than up for this one, which should make for a cracking affair. Despite all the vim and vigour that the Lakers will no doubt arrive with however, it is all but impossible to bet against the pedigree than West Van have at this level. The upset could well be on the cards here (and my record so far in this tournament has hardly seen me be omniscient), but I will believe it when I see it.

Castaways FC (VISL) v Faly Academy (VMSL) - Sunday 3:00pm @ Topaz Field, Victoria
This Castaways side is tough to get a read on. The fourth place team from the Island with the woeful goal difference seemed certain to be here to simply make up the numbers but, whether it is thanks to a favourable draw, them finding their rhythm, or some combination of those and other factors, these Cinderellas are enjoying their night at the ball. The question now is, is this the real Castaways or are we rapidly headed towards midnight? They narrowly beat VMSL U21 Cup finalists BCT Tigers 2-1 at home in their first round tie. Truth be told, despite Tigers cup run, they were a distant fourth place in the VMSL and when you added in the travel factor perhaps it was always likely that the Islanders would advance. Their most recent result had them trekking across the Lower Mainland out to Abbotsford and just when you thought Castaways might mail one in, they instead headed home after thrashing the FVSL side 5-1. However, Abby looked to have been exposed by Westcoast who be them soundly in the FVSL U21 Cup final, so perhaps this result said more about them than Castaways. We should have our answer in this one as Faly Academy have also come through two rounds of this tournament and have looked good in the process. A 5-4 win over the aforementioned Westcoast was followed by a satisfying 3-1 defeat of TSS, the team that knocked them out of the VMSL's U21 Cup. Both these sides are free scoring at the minute, which means their should hopefully be goals in this one. That could well spell disaster for Castaways though as, given that atrocious goal difference, they have, on occasion, found themselves unable to score their way out of trouble. A barn burner likely favours the Mainland team here, even with the travel factor, but maybe, once more, the stars align for Castaways. Based on their stats though, I still have to think the clock may well be ready to chime for Castaways.
 
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Canucks4Ever

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Finally I think I have got the hang of this competition as I nailed both semi finals. This gives me a chance to finish above .500, though I will need get the final spot on. Can West Van become just the second team ever to retain their U21 BC crown?

Completely Baseless Predictions
Men’s U21 Doug Day Provincial Cup

Semi Finals: 2/2
Overall: 5/10

West Van FC U21 (VMSL) v Faly Academy (VMSL) - Saturday 2:30pm @ Merle Logan #2, Nanaimo
So one year later and West Van are back to try and defend their Provincial title. Going back to back as BC champions is difficult at any level, but given the amount of turnover at this age group, under-21, it might be most difficult at this level. With the amount of kids aging out and the general instability of teams at this level, it has only occurred once before when Guildford won back to back titles in 2013 and 2014. The Surrey side would win once more in 2016 but had their dynasty interrupted by none other than West Van in 2015. The North Shore side are looking to become the third club along with Guildford and Port Moody Gunners, who won in 2007, 2009, and 2012 to have their name etched on the trophy three times. Opposing them will be Faly Academy, who finished third in the VMSL for the second consecutive season. Faly were the new kids on the block last year, playing the role of plucky upstarts and finishing the 2017/18 campaign just three point out of first place and two behind West Van. In an ironic twist, the first ever meeting between these sides that season saw Faly guilty of fielding an ineligible player, turning a 0-0 draw into a 3-0 win for West Van. Had that original result stood, it would have been the Academy finishing ahead of the club once known as the Trollers. That, however, was last season. This season saw Faly a much more distant third place, 14 points back of champions West Van. The sides met on Matchday 1 of the VMSL schedule, with West Van winning 3-1 with the reverse fixture ending in a 0-0 stalemate. Even though Faly did not beat West Van, they can take solace in being one of only six teams to score on the Amblesiders and one of only four sides to emerge with something other than a loss. West Van only conceded seven goals during league play and a further two in the cup, though that was enough to see them eliminated. They have yet to be scored on in the Provincial Cup either, posting back to back 3-0 wins over Greater Vancouver United, the team that handed them their only league loss of the campaign, and then a top VISL side in Prospect Lake. Faly, on the other hand, have posted solid offensive numbers, scoring 11 goals over the three wins that they have needed to reach the final, but they do concede. While they have offensive juggernauts in Tarr Wonder and Brandon Bangambee who combined for 31 league goals, their defensive frailties could well cost them here. Falling behind to West Van and their suffocating defense is not a viable option, so the Academy will likely need to come out swinging and hope to land an early body blow or two if they are to wrestle control of this match. Based on their overwhelming stats however, plus their experience of winning this final last year, West Van simply have to be the favourites in this match.
 
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