Div 2 2019 Div 2 CUP

Canucks4Ever

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And so Cup season is upon us once more. After posting what I consider to be a decent record of 37 out of 51 in last season's predictions, I will endeavour to improve on that mark this time around. That being said, these particular prediction are even more baseless than my usual offerings given that, while I do try to keep an eye on things in the lower leagues, I generally have less to go on than I do for match ups in the top flight. Of course adding to the difficulty is the very essence of cup play itself and the fact that anything can happen in a one off game. Enough with the preamble though, somebody is about to embark on an impressive unbeaten run, so let's step up to the plate and take a swing at figuring out just who that might be...

Completely Baseless Predictions - Preliminary Round

HK Hrvat (2B) v Rino's Bulldogs (2A)
At the top of the draw we begin with a very intriguing inter-divisional tilt between VMSL stalwarts Hrvat and Rino's. It has been a rough season to this point for the Bulldogs who are not yet able to rest assured of a place in the division for next season. However, they are coming off what is likely their biggest result of the campaign, beating second place Twin Arrows 4-3 and, in doing so, knocking back the Arrows late season title push. The win puts Bulldogs likely three more points away from safety as the other teams at the bottom still have matches against each other to come. All in all it is rather reminiscent of the form Hrvat showed last season as they struggled for long periods before reaching safety down the stretch. This though has been no such struggle for the one time Div. 1 side who sit comfortably mid-table and could even beat the odds and get a look at a Provincial Cup berth if they can climb up to forth. Both these sides are usually good for at least a round or two in the cup and both clubs certainly value the various cups as competitions worth taking a serious swing at, regardless of their draw. The winner has nearly promoted Striker on deck in the next round but, again, given the cup pedigree of both of these teams, I would not bet on that one being a walk in the park. In the meantime though, only one of these two can advance and it is definitely a toss up. Might need penalties in this one, but I'll tip Hrvat given they are having the better year overall and just always seem to win in the first round.

NorVan Lions (3C) v Vancouver Brothers United (3B)
An always difficult to predict match up between sides from different Div. 3 pools in this one given the disparity that often reigns at the lowest echelon of the VMSL. Brothers are new to the VMSL this year and have given a decent enough account of themselves posting four wins. Then again, those wins have come exclusively against teams below them in the table and they also have a pair of draws against the sides directly above them. Hardly stuff that will inspire confidence in a deep cup run. They will get to test out how life could have potentially been different had they been drawn into a different Div. 3 pool as NorVan finished fourth in 3C. The Lions, who ditched the "Vikings" moniker this season in favour of "Lions" which was abandoned when their Division 1 side got promoted to Premier all as part of the overall NVFC restructuring on the North Shore, had a decent season, though failed to make any real impact at the top, ending the year 20 points back of first place GFC. With 3C being wrapped up other than a lone make-up game for NorVan, it could be an early spring if they fail to get any sort of cup run going. They are the veterans compared to debutantes Brothers, so take the North Shore to progress here.

Burnaby Selects White Eagles B (3A) v Richmond Olympics (2B)
Fate has draw these two sides together once more as they went toe to toe for promotion from 3C last year until they both ultimately fell short of their goal. Fortunately Richmond assumed South Delta's spot in Div. 1 last year and, following a tire fire of a season, found themselves in Division 2 with little interest from that group to continue together. Up stepped a ready-made solution for Richmond in the Olympics who were keen to escape Div. 3 and have had a decent enough season at the higher tier, having secured safety with a few matches to spare. Burnaby are once again in the mix for promotion though, like last year, it appears that this season will also end in narrow disappointment. Handed a tough group that included U21 Champions, Coquitlam "Lobos", White Eagles sit five points back with three games remaining and will need some divine intervention if they hope to go up. Richmond are an older group, but certainly can hang with any team at Div. 3 level. Burnaby I think will be motivated here and would love a chance to show their former rivals that it is they who truly belong in Division 2.

Snipers (2A) v Regent College (3B)
The season began with Snipers looking like their struggles from the previous couple of year were set to continue. After once challenging for promotion from Division 2, Snipers had sunk further and further down the table until last season when they avoided the relegation playoff by the margin of a single point. Around the middle of the season however, the UBC based outfit found some form and strung together enough results to see them comfortably mid-table. 2A is so tight at the bottom that they are not officially safe just yet but, for all intents and purposes, the pressure is off. Regent College returned to the VMSL for their second season after taking awhile to get their feet under them in their inaugural campaign. A few wins towards the end of their schedule last year looks to have laid the foundation for them and they have spring-boarded to mid-table standing this season. They will no doubt be full value to have a go a Snipers, but I think the Div. 2 side should be relatively comfortable in this one.

Gastown (2B) v Brazzcouver (3A)
This one is a prediction nightmare. Gastown have almost completed a remarkable fall from grace; going from the heights of Division 1 to what is looking more and more like the genuine possibility of automatic relegation to Division 3. Their match next weekend against Hurricanes could well determine their fate and is easily their biggest of the season. They do have winnable matches against lower table teams to close out the campaign, but my goodness this have got to be getting too close for comfort. This begs the question, how much can they really be focused on the cup? Sure a win against a lower division side could help them get their mojo back, but a loss could be even more morale sapping. On the other side are VMSL new boys Brazzcouver who are set for a decent mid-table finish in their first season. With nothing else to play for, they will certainly be taking a shot at the cup for whatever it might be worth and will surely be thinking that they have a chance for a Div. 2 scalp in this one. No doubt they pack one or two flair players and their samba style in likely infectious when they get into a rhythm, meaning that some early success could have the South Americans really feeling it. Early success will be important for Gastown as well given that if they sputter out of the gate, that all too familiar sinking feeling will likely begin to creep in. I will take the Gastown boys in this one if only based on pedigree and the fact that I still have difficulty believing that they could be so far off the pace, but I am hardly confident about it.

Lobbans (3C) v Westside Juniors (2A)
These sides and their players will likely know each other well from CAT and Div. 3 over previous seasons. Westside are among the cluster of teams still trying to avoid the playoff spot in 2A while Lobbans turned in an undefeated season, but seven draws saw them finish 11 points back in third place in 3C, though they do still have a make up game to play. Probably not a huge gulf in class between the two side, but it would seem likely to come down to whether Westside's offense can break through Lobbans resolute defending. Randy Samuel always has his side well organized and well drilled, but there is a reason that they are still in Division 3, so we shall see how they do against a Div. 2 offense. If they can hang around and keep it close then this one is a toss up and there's every chance Lobbans could knick it, if their offense can deliver a goal or two. This one could well be decided from the spot, but in these close games it is hard not to go with the team from the higher division, so I will continue that trend and go for Westside to find the crucial goal.

Astro (2B) v France FC (3A)
A chance for one of these sides to potential go a couple of rounds here with Div. 3 Euro awaiting the winners in the next round. It was another tough group for France this season as they continue to play bridesmaid in the promotion race. This team has plenty of desire though, and a chance to knock off a Division 2 side will definitely have them motivated. France also, historically, underachieve in this competition however, I believe having always gone out at the first hurdle. This could be their year though, as Astro are essentially that team you kind of forget about in Division 2. Never challenging for promotion, possibly the occasional relegation scare but usually just comfortably mid-table. They also are not renown for any particular nasty reputation or crazy original story, nor do they have an real major rivals that I am aware. From all angles, they appear to be just a solid, nothing flashy, Division 2 side who put the work in and get the job done. And that's boring. And the cup is supposed to be about excitement and unpredictability. So, even though there is every chance that Astro cruise to a comfortable win in this one, I am going out on a limb to make it my Upset Special of the round.

Bombastic B (3A) v Shaheen (2B)
Finally a straight forward one. Shaheen are having a great season and are locked in an intense three-way promotion dog fight in 2B. Despite not earning a seed and getting a bye to the next round, they ended up with a decent draw and will surely have serious ambitions of putting their name on this trophy again, as they did back in their promotion winning season. Bombastic are a decent enough lower mid-table Div. 3 side, but short of a hole opening up at China Creek and swallowing the majority of the Shaheen squad, it is difficult to see how they might chart a course to victory in this match.

West Hounds (3A) v Strathcona (2A)
This one is the curtain raiser on the Div. 2 Cup as it goes Wednesday night at Memorial. It is another VMSL debutante in West Hounds as they host Strathcona. The East Van boys won the promotion playoff in Division 3 last to snag a vacant Div. 2 spot for this year and they look full value for it. They are fully safe from relegation and, if they can win out, might end up in the Provincial Cup conversation. West Hounds have notched a few wins on the year and can take comfort in a decent first season, but they are a few rungs down the ladder from Strathcona who should not have to much trouble advancing.

Greencaps B (2B) v BCT Apna Tigers (3B)
After being less than enthralled with a second bottom finish in the FVSL's Division 1 last season, Apna opted to try their luck in the VMSL and were forced to start in Division 3. While they would surely have been keen to skip starting at the bottom, being under the BCT umbrella did give the club teams in multiple divisions and likely facilitated in some player sharing opportunities. As it is though, they look set to lose out on promotion from Div. 3 at the first time of asking with Marpole holding 12 point cushion, though Apna do have a couple of games in hand. A team that knows all about winning promotion will be waiting for them at the weekend, as Greencaps are enjoying the fruits of a championship Div. 3 season in Division 2 this year. They are not quite fully safe for another year in Div. 2 just yet, but one more win would manage it. This could be a bit of a spicy one as neither of these teams is afraid to play on the edge. In another case of lower Div. 2 against upper Div. 3 I'll concede it could go either way, but I will once more go with the Div. 2 side.
 

Canucks4Ever

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And Part 2...

Royal City (3B) v Bombastic A (2A)
With the winner of this one slated for a trip to play Serbia, it is almost a case of why bother. After running away with Division 3 two seasons ago, Royal City were humiliated and sent pack from Division 2 at the end of last year with barely a point to their name. They righted the ship though back at the lower level and hung around in the promotion race to try and bounce straight back up, but have ultimately fallen short. Once more though, Jesse Gray leads the division in scoring with 19 goals and brother Kyle has 14 more of his own, so certainly they will be confident of scoring in this match. Bombastic are another side flirting with the relegation playoff in 2A and, indeed, they are the side who currently occupy the second to last place in the table. In this Div. 3 against Div. 2 match up I think home field in New West can count for something and I think the having the Gray's in goal scoring for is also a big factor. Bombastic is not at their best at the moment so I think the upset is on here.

Unicorns Arcoiris (3A) v HiVE FC (3A)
In a battle of the Div. 3 "WTF kind of names are these for a football club" teams, whoever emerges victorious actually has a decent shot at a bit of a cup run with another lower table Div. 3 team in Cosmos on deck for the next round. This is one of only two domestic match-ups in this round as well, with both sides coming from 3A. Unicorns are slightly higher up the table in eighth; seven points better off than HiVE who sit eleventh. Still HiVE are on 10 points for the year which is already a marked improvement on the two they managed all season last year in their debut VMSL campaign and one I really did not expect them to return from if I am being completely honest. Two of their three wins are against winless, last place Royal City Reserves and HiVE bleed goals, having conceded 73 time already this season. Their one previous meeting with Unicorns was a lopsided stats-padder for the mythical creatures, as they ran out 6-2 winners on the day. Under the good news column for HiVE the recorded easily their most impressive win in their history that weekend, beating seventh place Bombastic B 1-0. That is one place higher than Unicorns sit, so perhaps HiVE have turned a corner a will be buzzing for this one. Tough to bet on though.

13th Legion (2B) v South Delta Royals (3C)
Following a pair of heartbreaking campaigns where they just agonizingly missed out on promotion, 13th Legion have regressed this season. Promotion is officially out of reach this year after Serbia won last weekend, though, truthfully, the Legion will have known for some time now that this was not going to be their year. The cup then could offer some chance at glory for this group in what will otherwise surely be seen as a wasted season as even making Provincials will come down to the cup results with the best they can now hope for being realistically a fourth place finish. To that end the cup draw has been somewhat kind, with a path to the quarters looking to be fairly straight forward before they are likely to face the heavy hitters who are set to pip them to promotion in Serbia and Sierra. Before that, however, their journey begins against South Delta. The Tsawwassen boys are a quality group who are also classy off the field and are always quality around the cooler. That being said, their results don't lie and they sit mid-table in Division 3 for a reason. They will of course be up for this match, but the Legion are definitely heavy favourites.

VAFC Celtic (3B) v PCOV Benfica (3A)
It has been an unusually quiet season in more ways than one for VAFC as they sit a miserable second bottom in 3B based on goal difference alone. That goal difference is better off than last place AC Slater by nearly 60, however, I am not sure who that says more about. Regardless, VAFC are usually a lively bunch but they seem a little down these days. PCOV on the other hand are enjoying somewhat of a revival after a few bleak years as they sit fourth in a very competitive 3A pool, with a chance to perhaps even move higher before the season is out. A cup win or two would surely be a nice way to cap off the year as they will likely look to take a run at promotion next season. Given VAFC poor form, I would say they are likely good value for that win as well.

West Coast Celts (3C) v Campo Atletico B (3C)
Our other domestic match up in this round is from 3C where West Coast host Campo. Celts were just shy of joining their clubmates, Saints, in promotion last season, but lost a playoff to get into a playoff for the vacant bonus spot. They will miss out this season as well after finishing second place to GFC, but could earn a derby date with Saints by winning this match. West Coast beat Campo by an aggregate margin of 11-2 over their two meetings during league, but it is unclear what, if any, effect the regime change at Campo has had with the return of Eduardo Azmitia to the helm of their top side. No telling if he is involved with the B group of not, but Campo did finish the season with a pair of wins. Perhaps they will be well prepared for this one and looking to continue that momentum, though a chance at a derby against their mates should have West Coast in good form as well. Revitalized or not, it is tough to bet against those scorelines from previous head to head meetings, so I will take Celts to get the job done.

BCT Hurricane Tigers (2B) v Harps (2A)
Hurricanes have shown some signs of life of late in their relegation fight in 2B, including an almost other-worldly comeback against Serbia a few weeks back. Still, their struggles have been evident this season and with work to do on the relegation front, the cup may be an unwanted distraction. While progressing would certainly be nice, this quarter of the draw is easily the toughest of the four and, if they are to pick up wins over the coming weeks, they would surely rather them be in the league. Harps have had a decent season by their standard and still have an outside shot at making the Provincial cup. No reason why the Irish lads wouldn't fancy a cup run, so I would expect a motivated group to make the trip out to Surrey and likely return with a place in the next round.

Metropolitan A (2A) v Marpole Tropics (3B)
It will be yet another season in Division 2 for Students who have once more fallen short in their bid to return to Division 1. Even with the addition of Edson Castro, Metro were unable to keep pace with Strikers and will have to hope for better luck next season. Hoping to join them in Division 2 next year are Marpole and they are certainly in pole position to do just that holding a comfortable lead in 3B with just a few games remaining. Beyond just promotion though I hear rumours of a team that is very high on itself, arranging exhibition games with Division 2 and even, apparently, Premier sides. While that sounds perhaps somewhat outlandish, there is probably at least some grain of truth somewhere in there. Whatever the case, all signs point towards a teams that will be quietly confident of putting up an eye-catching result in this competition. Indeed, they have been drawn into the toughest quarter of the bracket, so if they are to make a cup run they will have claimed some rather venerable scalps along the way. Metro might not be going up, but they still have a decent pedigree, so it is tough not to see them as favourites. I think there is a decent chance this one could be rather entertaining though.

Meraloma (2A) v Sarajevo (2B)
Quite the heavyweight tilt in this one, making it easily the MOTR. Lomas sit fourth in 2A while Sarajevo are fifth in 2B and both sides are fighting to get a shot at a Provincial Cup berth in their respective divisions. Both likely also would have had designs on a cup run, though for one, they will fall at the first hurdle. Beyond this though there looks to be a relatively open path to the quarter finals at which point things will ratchet up substantially. Both these sides have taken points off the top teams in their division and can certainly hang with anybody. They are also both workmanlike in their approach, with fewer flair players, but certainly lads who put a solid shift in for the cause. It sets up as a great match-up over on the rugby pitch at Connaught on Saturday. That grass likely tilts things towards the home side, as well as the fact that Lomas also put up much better offensive numbers compared to Sarjevo. The visitors have one of the best defensive records in all of Div. 2, but on the grass, Meraloma's direct approach is likely to cause them problems. If the Lomas break through, Sarajevo may well find it hard to climb back into this one and I have to think that is likely to be the difference here.

Metropolitan B (3B) v VUFC Rangers (2B)
Rounding out the preliminary stage of the competition are Metro B and VUFC. Junior Students are a fairly run of the mill Div. 3 side, set for a mid-table finish. VUFC are having a much better season this year after narrowly maintaining their Division 2 status, having to survive the relegation playoff at the end of last year. They are just one win shy of safety this time around, though in truth the math already looks good for them even if they cannot come up with another three points before the end of the season. That should likely allow them a bit of freedom to play in the cup without any pressure and they get a soft landing in their opener against lower league opposition. Not much in truth to get the blood pumping in this one; take the Div. 2 side for the win.
 

Macho Man

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I will say, Astro certainly won't be taking FFC lightly, they look a solid team and we're excited to play a team we've never played before. Also, you've absolutely nailed the description of Astro as a team lol
 

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NK 2-1 Rino's

I did some catch up with @SmartCoach and watched the game. It was an entertaining game for the spectator. NK look young and have a lot of pace. They passed the ball well and looked to spring their forward with through balls and he was unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions in the first half. NK had more possession but ran in to a pretty solid midfield and defence of Rino's. Rino's relied more on the counters and were at times only a quality pass away from making the break through. Both teams hit the woodwork but Nk crashed one off the crossbar that may have actually gone in. It was tough to tell. The ball hit the bottom side of the crossbar and ricochet off the overly-tight net and bounced straight out. It was quite strange. Only a mild NK protest. 0-0 at the half.

Second half was more of the same but Rino's started to get more of the ball and grew in confidence. Rino's created a turnover in their own third and with a darting through ball pass their forward got on to the ball and slotted it home under tremendous pressure from the NK defence. The turning point of the game imo was a late NK challenge on the Rino's centre back and captain. He was having a "man of the match" performance but limped off with an ankle injury. NK piled on more pressure as Rino's didn't look as confident at the back now and they got the equalizer. NK's forward volleying home from the edge of the box. A bit lucky as it rolled of his shin and on to his foot but a deserved goal considering the amount of chances they created.

The game went to PK's where NK won however not without a little controversy. Rino's were ahead pk's when NK's defender(who had a strong game) had his penalty saved only for the ref to call it back because the goalie cheated off his line. It was honestly a poorly taken pk and would most likely have been saved but it was called back and on the second attempt he sent the keeper the wrong way.

Numbers 18, 8, 4 and 3 had strong games for NK. Rino's right back and centre back were solid and their Irish centre midfielder put in a good performance.

A good cross division cup game. Good luck to NK.
 

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Astro 4-1 FFC - Typical cup game with a tight first half as both teams felt each other out. Second half was more settled as space opened up and patterns of play emerged.

Ref revealed in pre-game he'd hurt his back getting out of bed in the morning and couldn't run. His performance was suitably underwhelming with some baffling decisions.
 

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MetropolitanB of div.3 with an upset vs Div.2 VUFC. I saw this on my instagram #vmsl.

Metropolitan keeper saving 3 of 4 pk's.

 
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Big E

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Here's hoping @Canucks4Ever is wrong in his weather predictions - though I wouldn't bet on it.

A scorching 12 - 5 prediction on round 1 with 2 games TBD.

Not without some results being much closer then one would expect - namely Shaheen just edging Bombastic B, Gastown with a 1 - 0 nail-biter against Brazcouver, along with many other tight games.

What's round 2 got in store?
 

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Looks like the league will get a few games in today. Full predictions to follow, but in the meantime...

Twin Arrows (2A) v Lobbans (3C)
Impressive out of Lobbans as the unbeaten lower league outfit took full advantage of a home draw against relegation threatened Westside and cruised to a 5-0 win. Now, though, it is another step up in class as they take on Twin Arrows who are eyeing up a Provincial Cup spot. For National Team man Randy Samuels will have his Surrey boys well drilled to be sure, but Twin Arrows will be sizing up a deep Cup run. Probably a tight one, but the home side are surely favourites here.

Shaheen (2B) v West Hounds (3A)
All credit to West Hounds, as the VMSL new boys fully stunned Strathcona in the Preliminary Round in easily the biggest win of their short existence. Following it up with another upset would, however, be beyond shocking as the mid-table Div. 3 side will go up against Provincial Cup bound Shaheen. The North Shore based outfit lost an absolutely wild one against Sierra last time out in one of the craziest finishes to a match ever witnessed. That all but ended their slim promotion hopes, so a return to Cup glory is likely now at the forefront of their psyche. As mentioned, fair play to West Hounds, but this one should be fairly straightforward.

FC Serbia (2B) v Bombastic A (2A)
Another mismatch here with promotion hopefuls Serbia taking on relegation candidates Bombastic. It was a moral boosting win over Div. 3 Royal City in the first round, but realistically this is not their year. Far from the heights of last season, the East Van side are clinging to their place in Div. 2 and would likely have preferred if that win could have counted for three points in the table, rather than a chance to move on in the cup. Serbia are relying on Sierra dropping points as well as a massive head to head win in order to climb up to Div. 1. The cup may be an unwelcome distraction from their promotion battle, but it also may represent a chance for glory. Whether it is any consolation for a potential missed promotion is debatable, but, regardless, they should have minimal trouble getting past this first hurdle.

Metropolitan A (2A) v Coquitlam Metro Ford Lobos (3A)
The MOTR sneaks in undetected among the snow. After seeing off one Div. 3 would be champion in Marpole in the first round, Metro get another in Lobos. The former U21 champions are poised to follow up their years at the age restricted division with an immediate promotion to Div. 2. Meanwhile, Metro a set to be trapped at that level for yet another year as they look to be missing out on a return to Div. 1 once again this season. CMF will surely relish the chance to test themselves against a top tier Div. 2 opponent, and it is surely a free hit for them with the pressure falling square upon Students. The higher league side are definitely favourites but this should be a real test in the toughest part of the draw. Look for potentially more penalty heroics here as I expected Metro Ford to give this one a real go.
 

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It would appear that the snow will finally be departing this week. The schedules have been reconfigured and now it is time to get back to determining who will be lifting the silverware this season! We are already down to 28 teams, with four matches in this round getting in ahead of the rest with the snow cleared already in various suburbs. As for the rest, lets see what twists and turns this round has in store for us...

Preliminary Round: 13/19
Overall: 13/19

Completely Baseless Predictions - Round of 32

Vancouver Strikers (2A) v HK Hrvat (2B)
In their first match of the competition, Strikers may well be facing down their toughest challenge between now and the semi finals. Strikers have being toying with promotion for the better part of a month now, having needed one more win to clinch the title since the middle of January. However, with a pair of games still go play against bottom of the table sides, it is a matter of when, not if, the Kitsilano side find their way into Division 1. That means that they will not be in this competition next season, so why not take a swipe at winning it? Their main threat is runaway Div. 2A goal scoring leader Brian Da Cruz, whose 23 goals are, in fact, the most across all all of Division 2. Standing in their way are a plucky HK Hrvat side who always seem to do well in Cup play and have once more won their opener as they squeaked past a resurgent Rino's Bulldogs side on penalties. Overall it has been a solid bounce back season for Hrvat, after they flirted with relegation last year, but been pushed to the brink by a lower mid-table 2A side does not auger well for them going up against the would-be champions.

NorVan Lions (3C) v Formwerks Boutique (3C)
The fortuitous cup draw for NorVan continues in this round. After they eased past lower mid-table Brothers United from 3B in the first round, they now get the last placed team from their own group. Formwerks amassed only one solitary win, and five total points, over their inaugural VMSL campaign after re-branding from "Royal Dutch Cousins." In a surprise though, one of their two draws that contributed to those five points came against NorVan. There is always a chance that lightning strikes again and the Boutique find their season continuing on, but I think the 5-1 beat down they received in the reverse fixture is likely to be more indicative of how this one will finish.

Richmond Olympics (2B) v Snipers (2A)
A solid, if less than glamorous, 1-0 win for Richmond last week over Div. 3 White Eagles B after the weather finally allowed that match to be played. It was a similar story for Snipers, who also only narrowly got past lower league opposition in the first round, beating Regent College 1-0. These sides both sit sixth in their respective pools and have done just about enough to ensure safety. It would appear to be a case of a classic crossover match up that could go either way! Snipers certainly have one or two speedy and dynamic offense players that could cause an older Richmond back line trouble. That being said, it is Olympics who have the better goal difference, thanks mostly to the fact that they seem to have found the goals somewhat easier to come by this season. Toss up here, but I think the lower half of 2A is slightly strong than the lower half of 2B so I will say Snipers are slight favourites, but only just.

Gastown (2B) v GFC Lions (3C)
While they did prevail in the end, Gastown's opening round match with VMSL Div. 3 newcomers Brazcouver hardly instilled confidence. A narrow 1-0 win for the seriously relegation threatened downtown boys can hardly have boosted morale in camp. They do have two winnable matches remaining in their league campaign, but their backs are against the wall as they will need at least one win to have any chance of survival. Enter GFC who have earned promotion after winning Division 3C and know they will be playing in Div. 2 next year, which is obviously more than Gastown can say at the minute. The Gastown lads would probably prefer to just get on with their survival battle, given that a deep cup run is probably unlikely this season. Meanwhile, GFC have only the cup left to play for and, given they are flying high after a first place finish, why not see how far they can go? Unfortunately for GFC, their season ended back in the middle of January and, with their first round bye and then subsequent snow, they have not played a match for six weeks. Perhaps they have called it a season mentally and will not be able to field a full power side for this one, so that is potentially a hurdle. That being said, make this one my Upset Special, as I like the lower league boys here.

Twin Arrows (2A) v Lobbans (3C)
See previous post.

Astro (2B) v Euro (3A)
No upset for Astro in their opener as they saw off France FC comfortably 4-1. Recently relegated Euro share the same group as France in 3A and look set to miss out on an immediate return to Div. 2. Given that they had little trouble against a France side that are in the same upper Division 3 tier as Euro, it stands to reason that Astro should have another relatively straightforward task in this one.

Shaheen (2B) v West Hounds (3A)
See previous post.

Greencaps B (2B) v Bowen Falconetti (3B)
All of a sudden things are getting just a little hot under the collar for newly promoted Greencaps. With only two matches left to play they are likely still one more win away from safety. Both their remaining matches are against top half opponents who are fighting for a place in the Provincial Cup, so they are not likely to benefit from encountering a team that is coasting to the finish line. The Irish lads will be hoping to get some momentum from a solid cup win against another lower league opponent after knocking off BC Apna Tigers 2-1 in the last round. While the Green men did not exactly romp to a victory in that one, Apna and Bowen are both in 3B, but Bowen are third bottom, as opposed to Tigers who were fighting for promotion. Indeed, Bowen Falconetti's open boys are not enjoying the same level of success that this merger has brought their Masters group, who have won Masters Division 2. This should be a chance for Greencaps to fill the net and try to get back on song ahead of some crunch league games.

FC Serbia (2B) v Bombastic A (2A)
See previous post.

Unicorns (3A) v Cosmos (3B)
In what amounts to the "Who Cares?" match of the round, this pair of lower mid-table Division 3 side will play off for the right to lose to Division 2 powerhouse Serbia. Both sides have comparable records and goal differences and both took only one point off the top four teams in their respective divisions. This one is the definition of a toss up. Unicorns got to beat up on fellow 3A side HiVE 5-0 once the league found a way to fit their opening round match in thanks to the weather issues. Cosmos, meanwhile, had a bye and haven't played since the snows rolled in three weeks ago. Unicorns are also at home, so maybe that is a slight edge. Again, to be brutally honest, it is not like it really matters given the winner is likely to be cannon fodder in the next round.

13th Legion (2B) v PCOV Benfica (3A)
There will be no last minute heartbreak for the Legion this season as they are well out of the promotion conversation and, in truth, have been for a while. They will do well just to finish in the top four of 2B this season, with Sarajevo nipping at their heels, which means a return to the Provincial Cup is starting to look questionable. While, understandably, a Provincial Cup success is certainly secondary to achieving promotion, the Legion boys would do well to give it ago as the last two champions, Strikers and Greencaps, have gone on to promotion the following season. As of now, 13th Legion will only get into the tournament if they reach the final of this competition or if they hang onto fourth place, have both finalists come from the already qualified teams in Division 2 and then win a playoff against the fourth placed team from 2A. So certainly the easier way would be just to do it themselves and progress to the final of this cup. The Legion were able to comfortably see off a lower league side already in their opener, beating South Delta 4-0, while this round's opponents, PCOV, were handed a bye thanks to VAFC Celtic forfeiting. The Portuguese have had a bounce back season after toiling since a demotion from Division 2 a few years back. PCOV hung around the top half of 3A most of the season and will finish in the top half. Definitely a sterner test this round for the Legion, but they are surely favourites, especially if they are motivated enough to try and chase down a Provincial Cup spot.

West Coast Celts (3C) v West Coast Saints (2A)
A dream cup tie here for the West Coast boys as they get to square off in a club derby. All bets are off for this one and expect a full blooded affair as the two footballing branches of this club that is better known for its rugby and Aussie rules presence meet. Celts have had another good season in Div. 3 but will once more be bridesmaids in the promotion race. Saints, meanwhile, are still possibly one victory away from securing survival in Div. 2 after their promotion, though they may well have done enough already. The upper league boys drew a bye through the first round while their lower league compatriots may well have had one as well as Celts demolished Campo 9-1. How this match turns out is anyone's guess. We had a top Div. 3 side against lower Div. 2 team plus you add in the fact that club bragging rights are on the line and there is no telling how this one plays out. You know Celts will be out to stick one to their clubs "A" team, while Saints will want to show exactly why they are in Division 2 and their clubmates are not. I'll tip the Div. 2 boys, but this one could easily go either way.

Westside Sierra (2B) v Harps (2A)
This could be a bit of a tricky draw for Sierra, as the former BMSA boys make their bow in VMSL Cup play. In truth, they will hope that this is their only appearance in this competition as they have their sights set on leaving Division 2 behind and winning promotion to Div. 1. They are in pole position to win the 2B crown and could be handed a huge boost this week with their two chief rivals, Serbia and Shaheen, clash as they got their cup matches in last weekend. There is no doubt that Sierra will be focused on their promotion battle first and foremost and, while they certainly will not throw away a chance at silverware, you have to think they might just be more focused on their league campaign. If the time comes when promotion is settled, then, if they still remain in the competition, likely their full attention will turn to winning this tournament. However, in the meantime, this potentially opens the door for a plucky Harps side to pull off the upset. It has been a more stable season for Harps as they finally seem to be back on solid footing after their lone season in Division 1 four years ago. Four league draws on the spin has dropped them out of the Provincial Cup conversation, meaning that if the Irish lads are to return to that competition they will need to reach the final of this cup. They have to be underdogs here, simply given Sierra's pedigree so far this season, but Harps have held their own against the big boys in 2A this season, including an incredible 5-5 draw with title favourites Strikers just a few weeks back. The Irishmen seem to match the level of their opponent, hence all the draws I suppose, so they may well give Sierra a run. Who knows, if Sierra's minds are elsewhere an upset may well be on the cards here!

Metropolitan A (2A) v Coquitlam Metro Ford Lobos (3A)
See previous post.

Meraloma (2A) v Metropolitan B (3B)
Impressive display from Metro B (Jr. Students??) in taking out higher division opposition in the opening round. In came down to penalties, but the UBC based outfit held their nerve to pull off the upset and send VUFC Rangers packing. Serving up another shock will take some serious chops though, as Meraloma have been one of the league's success stories this season. Lomas are in the think of things as they battle for a Provincial Cup spot in 2A and have taken points off of every team in the league except Provincial Cup rivals Strathcona, who managed the double over them, which includes wins over Strikers and Twin Arrows. They also negotiated a tricky opening round fixture against a solid Sarajevo side from 2B. It was never really in doubt though as Lomas took the lead in the first minute and doubled it on the stroke of half time before trading second half goals with their visitors en route to a relatively comfortable 3-1 win. Credit to Metro, but this is definitely a step up in class this round, look for another straightforward Meralomas victory in this one.

Siaron (3B) v Coquitlam Metro Ford United (3C)
Sadly for Siaron their promotion hopes were dashed for the second season running when they lost 2-1 to Marpole just before the snow blew in. That result confirmed that it would be the South Vancouver outfit heading up next year, leaving Siaron to try and piece things back together to take another shot at going up in September. They will get a chance to take their anger out on VMSL debutantes Coquitlam Metro Ford United. The Tri-Cities boys are yet another side from a club that apparently has seemingly no end of players to pull the shirt on. Adequate is likely the best word to describe United's inaugural campaign as they will finish in mid-table, closer to the bottom than the top. If Siaron have thrown in the towel after their title campaign was halted then perhaps Metro Ford have a chance here, otherwise it should be the Trillium based side with the ungodly 10am kickoff advancing.
 
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