The Port Moody Blues are a championship soccer team for the first time since 2007.
The team will be the Fraser North’s top seed heading into the provincial championships later this month after it upset the Centennial Centaurs 2-1 in Thursday’s zone title match at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.
The Blues, which finished fourth in league play, got second-half goals from Adnan Al-Khudur and Weiwei Luo to defeat the Centaurs, which lost for the first time this season but still earned a berth into provincials.
Port Moody coaches Anthony Marrello and Giovanni Valence said the team has been a motivated group all season to earn its spot atop one of the province’s most competitive high school soccer zones, which also includes sides from Burnaby and New Westminster.
“They have bought in, persevered through adversity, maybe surprised a lot of people,” said Marrello and Valence. “The team always believed and showed a desire to be successful right from the get-go.”
Offensively, the Blues prospered from contributions by players like Vlad Oltean, Austin Agostini, Sebastian Villar and Elias Ahmed, while Darrian Rodriguez Ray, Luca Infanti, Mathias Buenfil and Marty Bajarunas, along with goalkeeper Blake Rawlyk, held the fort on defence.
Marrello and Valence said the close nature of many of the team’s games this season gave players the fortitude to battle to the final whistle.
In Thursday’s game against Centennial, the Blues spent a great deal of the fist half defending their own end. But with neither team able to score, Port Moody was able to regroup through the break and take the win in the second half.
Marrello and Valence said the result “speaks to the determination of this team.”
With one banner this season already in the Blues’ possession, the coaches will now turn their attention to preparing to compete for another. It's last title 16 years ago was also a provincial championship.
“There’s a lot of excitement amongst the group,” they said.
Blue Devils' bid bested by Burnaby South
The Burnaby South Rebels earned Fraser North’s third spot in provincials after they defeated the Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils 1-0 on Thursday.
The provincial tournament will be played Nov. 23-25 at Burnaby Lake.