The Centennial Centaurs will be playing for third place at the BC Secondary Schools AAA senior boys' soccer championships in Burnaby.
It’s not the way the Centaurs wanted to spend their Saturday, Nov. 25, nor what the team deserves, said Centennial coach Kevin Comeau after a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in extra time to Victoria’s Royal Bay Ravens in Friday’s first semifinal.
“We battled and gave everything we had,” Comeau said.
The Centaurs, which qualified for the semifinal with a dramatic 8-7 win on penalty kicks over Surrey’s Panorama Ridge Friday morning, started the early afternoon contest a little sluggish. That cost them when Royal Bay opened the scoring in the 18th minute as the Ravens were able to take advantage of a lapse by Centennial defenders that created a two-man break on keeper Luca Lambert.
The goal seemed to roust the Centaurs from their slumber. They proceeded to carry the run of play the rest of the tough, physical match but lacked finish around the net.
That is, until the waning moments of regulation time.
With Lambert out of his net to the edge of the Ravens’ penalty box as an extra attacker, Evan Crosby leapt high amidst a scrum of players to knock home a free kick from the sideline, evening the score and sending the teams to a 15-minute overtime.
Again, the Centaurs carried play. And again, it was a momentary loss of concentration that cost them as Royal Bay pounced on an opportunity to score the go-ahead goal midway through the first seven-and-a-half-minute half.
Centennial pressed play anew but this time couldn’t find the equalizer.
Comeau said fatigue, injuries and illness may have caught up to his charges.
“It’s our fourth game in two days and that’s a lot of soccer,” he said. “Guys were dealing with injuries, dealing with cramps, those sorts of things.”
Comeau said the nailbiting conclusion to Centennial’s morning match to decide which team from its pool would move into the championship bracket may also have exacted a toll.
“You’re celebrating a bit like you’re proud to get there,” he said. “We had to keep the same energy we had at the end of that game and bring that into this game.”
Still, Comeau added, his players have a lot to be proud of after the side failed to qualify for provincials last year and finished sixth in 2021. He said playing for third place will be a great way for his mostly senior team to close out their high school careers.
“You win your last game, you get a medal. That’s what we’re playing for,” he told in a post-match huddle. “We don’t want to come away from this with nothing.”
Centennial plays Vancouver College for the bronze medal at 11 a.m. at Burnaby Lake West.
Meanwhile, the Port Moody Blues will play Walnut Grove for 13th place on Saturday after finishing pool play on Friday with a 4-0 win over North Peace.
The Blues drew its previous two matches, 2-2 against Abbotsford and 0-0 against Fleetwood Park.