The Carihi Junior Boys soccer team captured its first North Island title in more than 25 years on Tuesday and earned a trip to the Island Championships next week.
The tournament started with a round-robin match against the Kwalikum Condors. Kwalikum was easily outclassed by the Campbell River squad as Carihi maintained possession for long spells and ran away to a 5-nil win. The game was highlighted by a goal from Eugene Park. Also on the scoresheet was Shohei Iwamoto and speedy forward River McDonnell. The final goal was a masterful set-piece orchestrated from the sidelines by coach Greg Borrie, who directed Park to send a perfect long ball across the box for a charging Connor Nast, who volleyed it into the back of the net.
Game two was a one-sided affair against Powell River, featuring goals from Jack Crosby, Jonah Shankar, Tom Younger, Dylan Kruyt, Luka Mastrangelo, Park and two more for McDonnell. Shohei Iwamoto, who usually anchors the backline, was moved up front as the score became lopsided. Iwamoto found the back of the net to put the final touches on a 9-1 drubbing. Andrew Daniels stepped into Iwamoto’s left back position and had a strong game on defence.
Tuesday morning’s game featured not only the remnants of Hurricane Ana, but also the number one team from the Mid Island League, Nanaimo’s Woodlands. McDonnell struck again in the first minute for a 1-0 lead and his sixth goal of the tournament to give him a firm grasp on the Golden Boot Award. Despite relentless pressure upon the Woodland goal, the score remained 1-0 at half time. Woodland played a strong second half but the Tyees continued to close down their more significant players and secured the semi-final win.
The final was a rematch against Carihi’s arch-rivals from Comox, the Isfeld Ice. Two weeks ago the Ice downed a tired Carihi squad 4-nil in league play and the boys were out for revenge.
Coach Borrie used the experience of that defeat to tinker with the playing system. Such expertise was rewarded as the boys were able to stifle the fluidity of Mark Isfeld. The first-half was dominated by Campbell River, as the boys moved the ball around smartly and Park found the back of the net twice. His second was a well-placed strike from outside the 18-yard box that eluded the keeper and set up an exciting second half.
On the handful of occasions that the Ice got the ball into the box, Carihi keeper Jared Perras was more than up for the task. Perras allowed only one goal in the entire tournament and showed great maturity with his solid decision making. His brave clearances and charges off the line were the difference in the game.
The final ended in a 2-nil victory for Carihi who will go to the Island Championships next week as the number one seed for the first time in 25 years. The Island Championship is being held at Mark Isfeld on Monday and Tuesday.
The parents and players thank Coach Borrie and his wife Ronaye for the years of hard work they have put into Carihi soccer.