Carihi keeper Jared Perras (left) prepares to gather the ball as defender John Samuels guards his man.

Carihi boys secure historic Island title

It’s been quite the season for the boys Soccer program at Carihi.

The past two weeks have seen both their Junior and Senior Boys teams claims their respective North Island Championships.

The Senior Boys maintained the winning feeling this week with an historic AA Island title. In doing so they became only the second senior soccer team to claim this prestigious Championship repeating the feat of 2013.

The Island Championship was due to be played at Carihi. The heavy rains of the past few weeks made this impossible. In previous years the Championship was moved to Nanaimo turf pitches. This time the community was able to provide Robron turf. Fortunately, the championship was also able to use the Courtenay turf and consequently it was held between the two communities.

Despite Carihi entering the Tournament as North Island Champions, after their thrilling over time victory over Brentwood College the previous week, they were still in a very difficult group. This season the teams were very close and every team at the tournament had justifiable hopes of making the top three and a spot in the Provincial Championship. The Carihi boys knew they would have to be at their best and were ready to play four very challenging games.

The first game was a hard fought battle against North Island rivals Mark Isfeld. It was a classic frenetic type “Derby.” After an even start, an unfortunate own goal put Carihi up after 14 minutes. The game ebbed and flowed but chances were limited.

Midway into the second half left wing player River McDonnell seemed to put the game away with a well hit shot from outside the box to put the Tyees two goals up. This Mark Isfeld team never give up and within five minutes they pounced on an opportunity in the six yard box to make it 2-1.

Within a minute they had a one v one with Jared Perras, the Carihi keeper. Fortunately Perras was able to get out quickly and make a crucial save. Moments later a thunderous shot cannoned off the cross bar. The Tyees were indeed relieved to hear the final whistle after a nervous last few minutes.

The second game of the day saw the boys play against Francis Kelsey. They had also won their first game of the day defeating Royal Bay 1-0. Both teams started off the game strong with both playing a similar style of soccer which was easy on the eye. The Tyees began to crank up the pressure and to the delight of the cheering crowd, Carihi’s Jack Crosby broke the deadlock after 21 minutes with a well taken shot. Carihi took great confidence and controlled much of the play for the rest of the game with some fine wide play from Gamble Geraghty and Jonah Shankar contributing to Fergus Hall’s second half goal to seal the game 2-0.

The whistle blew and the Tyees knew they had done all they could to set up an exciting last game where they would only need a point to earn first place in the group. As the players were bringing the goalposts in, word arrived that Mark Isfeld had defeated Royal Bay 2-1.

This result brought huge cheers and hugs from players as it meant that Carihi had secured first place in the group and a berth in the Provincial Championship! The only two teams who could match Carihi were teams they had beaten and therefore they would finish top whatever happened in the last group game. Indeed a dream scenario for the Tyees after day one.

The third game was used as a warm up game for the final later that day. All of Carihi’s players got on the field for a fun game against Royal Bay from the South Island. Royal Bay fought hard as it was their last game of the season. Carihi players Andrew Daniels, Jeffrey Lindenbach and Brady Assu showed us what they had showing great professionalism in the 3-0 loss.

The final was a rematch of the North Island final. It was to be Brentwood against Carihi. Brentwood had earlier defeated the highly rated St Michaels University School 2-1 to seal first place in their group. Carihi began the game on the front foot taking the game to Brentwood with strong play in the midfield by Alec Weinstein, Nathan Chow and Hall controlling and passing their way through the Brentwood side. Wide players Assu, McDonnell and Josh Rolland and Thomas Succo Fredes were a constant threat. The passing was crisp and confident. Carihi’s breakthrough came when center back Shohei Iwamoto made a defence splitting run creating a foul in the box and scoring on the ensuing penalty kick to put the Tyee’s up 1-0. The Tyees continued to push throughout the whole of the first half and played some of their best soccer of the season. The only negative of the first half was that the Tyees were not two or three goals up.

The second half proved to be a different affair. Although Brentwood had lost a player to a red card they turned up the intensity putting Carihi on their heels. It became an intense battle with many crunching tackles flying around the pitch. Brentwood made a number of strong counter attacks but Iwamoto and John Samuels were outstanding at the heart of the defence. Brentwood deservedly found an equalizer and continued to push for the winner. Carihi gave away a number of free kicks and corners. Often with the ensuing free kicks the ball was swung in high for the physically bigger Brentwood team to attack.

The Tyees never hid and battled and scrapped for every ball in the air or the ground.  Late in the half, John Samuels made a game saving tackle that unfortunately resulted in having to leave the game due to injury. The reshuffle saw Hall dropped into the centre back role and Lindenbach and Daniels provided some valuable minutes.

The game went into overtime. Brentwood again had a number of corners which were defended well. Rolland had a great effort saved by the keeper but neither team was able to find the back of the net therefore a penalty shootout was needed. Just as in 2013 the Carihi keeper was to make the crucial saves to ensure the trophy came to Carihi. Brentwood went first and Perras made a superb one handed save low to his right. Perras made a second save on their third shooter. After four shots Brentwood had scored two. Meanwhile Carihi had scored through Iwamoto, Chow and Rolland.

The final shot from Brentwood was driven over the bar and the Tyees had won the 2016 AA Island Championship!

Next up for the Tyees is a trip to the Burnaby Lake Sports complex where the AA Provincial Championship will be held on Nov. 21 -23.