By Josh Rolland and Corson Arbour
Carihi Senior Boys have enjoyed immense success over the past three years but with only two returning starters, expectations for the season were realistic yet positive.
The goal was to first reach the North Island Championship. The boys completed this task finishing top of the zone despite losing their opening league game.
Going into the North Islands, the Tyees again lost their opening game but battled back to win the next three to finish a respectable third in the North Island Championship and, most importantly, earn a berth into the Island Championship in Victoria. Driving down to Victoria, would the weight of the previous three years’ success, three trips to the provincial championship, three cup final appearances and two Island Championships be too heavy for the lads or would their history inspire them? Day one would clarify their reaction with two difficult games against South #2 Stellys and North #1 Brentwood Collage.
Carihi started brightly but gradually, Stellys settled and began to enjoy some decent possession. Eighteen minutes in, midfielder Sam Borrie lofted a brilliantly placed through ball over the top of the Stellys’ defence. Striker Kenneth Jolliffe read the move beautifully and laced a thunderous volley into the back of Stellys’ net, giving Carihi the lead. Shortly before the end of the first half, a through ball and miscommunication in the Tyees’ backline, saw a Stellys’ winger breaking free on goal and equalized going into half time.
The rest of the game, Carihi found dominance in possession, with some unfortunate missed chances, which left the Tyees with a lingering sense of urgency searching for the go-ahead goal. In the dying minutes of the second half, Carihi got a corner kick which was whipped into the back post by Borrie, where striker Marcus Shankar headed a match winner for the Tyees. A crucial three points were earned.
Next up was the “Battle with Brentwood.” A close first half saw both teams exchange turns in possession. Midway through Co-captain Corson Arbour sent a driven through ball to winger Victor Le who calmly lobbed the ball over the Brentwood keeper giving the Tyees an important and deserved lead. The second half saw BCS pressing high in search of an equalizer, but Carihi’s defense was kept strong by the likes of Thomas Greze-Kozuki, Jesse Seifert and Arbour winning the individual battles in the air. Brentwood were playing some excellent football and tied the game with 10 minutes remaining with a very well taken free kick.
The game became an end-to-end affair but in the dying minutes of the game, co-captain Josh Rolland found himself 40 yards out with the ball at his feet. He unleashed an ferocious shot which dipped just under the crossbar and into the net. A remarkable strike worthy of winning any game anywhere! On the last kick of the game, Brentwood’s goal scorer was very unlucky to not bag a second as another one of his freekicks rang off the crossbar and out. Overwhelming relief came from the Tyees after the ref blew his whistle signaling the end of an intense 70 minutes.
In the final group match, the Tyees faced Mark R Isfeld. Isfeld needed to win to stay alive while Carihi required a point to win the group and guarantee a berth into the provincial championships. A quiet game saw Carihi impose their dominance in possession. With only a single goal scored by Rolland in the second half, the Tyees secured their spot for their fourth straight Island finals. Creating school soccer history in doing so.
For the third time in three seasons, the AA boys Island final saw Carihi face St.Michaels University School. The Tyees began the game with a solid opening half. Good ball movement allowed Carihi to get a hold of the game, but it was SMU who got on the scoreboard first. Following a give away due to miscommunication in the midfield, a SMU winger was put in on the goal and capitalized on his second attempt. Carihi found their equalizer not long after, when Rolland ran onto a ball that was put past the SMU defence by Striker Jolliffe, he placed the ball past the keeper to tie up the game. At halftime, Carihi coach John Jepson discussed the importance of playing the brand of football they have worked on all year, possession based courageous soccer was the target and the results will come.
In the second half the Tyees created some good opportunities but couldn’t finish their chances. SMU saw success out wide with an individual run and pass that was expertly placed into the far post, giving SMU their second lead of the game. Not long after SMU took advantage of their momentum, and almost capitalized on a chance to seal the game. A certain third goal was stopped by a brave piece of goalkeeping from Trent Perras. Unfortunately, such bravery resulted in Perras breaking his thumb. The gloves were passed onto frontman Shankar who had to step up for his team. Following the unfortunate shift, the Tyees worked hard to get back into the game. A pass was placed to the top of the box where Midfielder Tsubasa Mukainakano found an opening just inside SMU’s 18-yard box, and let off a shot that made its way past the opposition’s goal keeper, tying the game at two all.
Another well-placed cross from a SMU winger was met by a SMU striker who headed it in for their third lead of the game. In the dying minutes, a foul was drawn on the half line in Carihi’s favour. Co-captain Arbour sent a flighted ball into the area which found the head of Ignacio Caro who put it in for the third and final comeback of the game.
In the melee challenging for the ball an unfortunate head injury took midfielder Sam Borrie off the field for the remainder of the game. The 80th minute whistle blew with the teams level at three a piece. The Carihi boys gathered around coaches, Jepson and Raymond Wilson for one last piece of inspiration, before going into extra time. Both teams came out strong, however, exhaustion was setting in with possession bouncing back and forth but Carihi remained determined with a courageous performance from substitute Kazu Iwamoto who joined the back line. After a scoreless 15 minutes, the final whistle blew ending regulation play.
The 2019 AA island championship would have to be won, or lost at the penalty spot. The five players who stepped up for Carihi were Jollife, Seifert, Greze-Kozuki, Le, and Arbour. Each of them scored their penalty shot, and SMU’s first five did the same. Now into sudden death, Rolland stepped up and scored the sixth shot, giving substitute keeper Shankar, a chance at winning an Island title for his team. SMU’s sixth shooter stepped up to the spot and was denied by Shankar, who was then swarmed by his teammates in celebration of their accomplishment of winning their second straight and third Island championship in four years.
Corson Arbour co-captain said, “This season, nothing came easy for us. We had to battle to the very end of every game to get good results. Also seeing the amount of hard work and effort from every player and being able to lead them is a great honour, and will be looked back upon for many years to come.”
Defender Jesse Seifert said, “I believe that our ability to come from behind is very strong. Having a larger bench I think really helped too, specifically being able to rotate the strikers so frequently and having the option of putting on fresh legs to help strengthen us defensively. Playing through our midfield has been what we’ve strived to do all year and I believe we did that effectively. With flashes of individual brilliance throughout, it was our fight and determination that it came down to in the end.”
Following their historic win, the Tyees will look to end their season on a high note in Burnaby at the AA boys soccer provincial championships Nov. 18-20. Some games may be shown live at https://bcsssc-com.webs.com/