‘Bonanza year’ as CVSA sends three to provincials

An unprecedented three teams from the Cowichan Valley Soccer Association have qualified for this year’s provincial B championships.

The U15 boys Gold team completed the trifecta on Saturday by beating Nanaimo’s Harbour City Gold team in a double-overtime thriller, joining the U16 boys and U14 girls teams that had already advanced.

"We have never had three teams qualify for provincials," longtime CVSA president Bill Keserich confirmed. "It’s a hard thing to do. This is a bonanza year for us."

All three teams won their Lower Island Soccer Association League Cups, then won the B Cup playoffs before advancing to their respective Island provincial qualifiers. The U15 boys Gold team went undefeated in LISA league play, winning all 17 games, then continued that streak through the B Cup playoffs. As B Cup champions, they battled Harbour City for the Island’s provincial berth, and won the one-game playoff 1-0. "This is the second year that Ron Lederer and I have coached this great group of boys," said coach Al Longair. "They are a strong team who have bonded very well this season, and every player has contributed unselfishly to our success. We have a solid defence, quick-paced midfielders and forwards, and two excellent keepers."

The other two Cowichan teams earned their provincial berths a week earlier on March 1. Thanks to goals by Matt Gurzinski and Lucas Grosse and heroic goalkeeping by Nathaniel White, the U16 boys Gold team defeated Gorge 2-1 to win the Lower Island B Cup after going undefeated to take the League Cup. As LISA B Cup champs, they earned the right to attend provincials.

The same group won District Cups in 2011/12 and 2012/13 for four trophies in three years.

"They’ve worked really hard this year to accomplish what they’ve accomplished," said coach Dave Doughty, who has shepherded the team through the last three seasons. "I told them in my first year that my goal for them was to qualify for provincials."

Like the two boys teams, the U14 girls Gold team also went undefeated during the regular season to win the League Cup. They then beat Bays 4-2 in overtime in the B Cup final, and dismantled Comox 6-0 in the March 1 Island qualifier.

"The girls and their support systems – parents, grandparents – are all excited," said manager Laurie Banasch.

Most of the U14 girls team has been together for the last two seasons, with some new additions this year.

"There’s probably a core of about 10 girls from last year, and about six new additions," Banasch guessed.

All three CVSA teams will represent the Island in the Coastal Cup tournaments on the Lower Mainland in April, followed by their respective provincial championships in July.