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Photos: Coquitlam's Centennial Centaurs advance to semifinals despite loss at girls high school soccer provincials

Centennial won the championship in 2018 and 2019, but the two subsequent seasons were cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic

The three-peat is still alive for the Centennial Centaurs senior girls soccer team.

The two-time reigning AAA high school champions will play Richmond’s McMath Wildcats in Thursday afternoon's semifinals with the winner advancing to Friday’s gold medal match at the Cloverdale  Athletic Park.

The Centaurs moved on despite a 2-1 loss to the Fraser Heights Firehawks in the match of group play Thursday morning.

The setback meant Centennial, Fraser Heights and Reynolds all finished with a record of two wins and a loss. But the Centaurs had a superior goal differential, after earlier wins over North Peace, 8-0, and 3-1 over Reynolds.

Against the Firehawks, Centennial got a first-half goal from Tara Krsmanovic, but Fraser Heights responded with a pair in the second half — one of the goals on a penalty kick.

Centaurs’ coach Larry Moro said the loss, and the team’s inability to finish against the Firehawks, may be just the wake-up call it needs after going through the regular season, league and district playoffs undefeated.

“Now we know we can be beaten,” he said. “It’s time to refocus and put all our effort on the field.”

Moro said his side was showing the strain and fatigue of a busy opening day.

“We ran out of gas.”

And when the Centaurs were unable to penetrate a stubborn and resilient Falcon defence, the discipline that powered the team to consecutive championships in 2018 and 2019 before high school sports were put on pause by the COVID-19 pandemic broke down.

“They were more determined,” Moro said of Fraser Heights.”We panicked when we needed to close.”

• Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils finished group play with a win, draw and loss to finish third in its group. The best the team can now finish is ninth place.