The Duality of Sport: L1BC Semi-Final’s Bring Triumph And Trip-Ups
Over the past 14 weeks, the third tier of Canadian soccer in British Columbia has shown the rest of the country the level of skill which exists in League1 Canada, and within it’s penultimate match-week, that was no different.
As if this weekend wasn’t already exciting enough for fans of League1 Canada’s various leagues – with the League1 Alberta Finals taking place as well as various divisional playoffs from League1 Ontario – League1 BC’s semi-finals just took place with eight different squads facing off in four matches on Saturday and Sunday.
With berths to this coming weekend’s L1BC finals at BC Place on the line plus, for the women, the final spot in the L1 Canada Inter-provincial Championships, all the clubs were seeking glory but unfortunately, only four would go on to taste it.
No More (Swan)Guardian Angel
It has been quite the year for Darren Russcher’s TSS Rovers FC. With the club having won League1 BC last year in a thrilling men’s final over Varsity FC (now Nautsa’mawt FC) in front of a roaring home crowd, the Burnaby side then qualified for the 2023 Canadian Championship.
There, they made history once again as the first ever League1 Canada team to eliminate their professional opponents with a 3-1 win over Valour FC back in April. Unfortunately their cup run would come to an end against Pacific FC, but the die had been cast and they continued their league season culminating only two points short of first place.
Yet once both the men’s and women’s Rovers squads arrived at Ken Woods Field to take on the Whitecaps Academies in semi-final action, neither would be up to the task. Both squads would concede within the first 20 minutes, and although the women would strike back twice with both Delana Friesen and Nikki Virk netting goals for TSS, ultimately both would fall short with the girls being bested 5-2 by the Whitecaps Girls Elite program while the VWFC MLS Academy would deny the Rovers men every opportunity en route to a 4-0 victory.
2022 was an interesting year for the Langley-based Unity FC. The club’s men’s side failed to deliver any true momentum to fans ending the season with 12 points over 12 games. The women, on the other hand, had a great yet disappointing season in 2022 as they fell one lone point short of a place in last year’s finals. After an off-season where clearly a lot of work went on behind the scenes, both teams decided that this year was going to be the year they left their mark on L1BC.
Playing both games on the road due to their third (women) and fourth (men) place finishes, the teams were already facing an uphill battle against arguably stronger competition. Over on Van Isle, Unity’s men would push the Victoria Highlanders to the brink with a back-and-forth affair where the teams would alternate goals until the Highlanders struck the final blow with a goal by Michael Henman in the 69th minute, granting Victoria a 3-2 win and a spot in the 2023 finals.
Oppositely, the women’s squad decided early on that they were going to run away with the match and netted four goals starting in the ’21 all the way to the ’59. Their Nautsa’mawt opponents would find a small level of solace in Vanessa Tome’s ’64 goal, but it wouldn’t be enough to best Langley’s finest.
The August Long-Weekend is shaping up to be quite the weekend for British Columbia. While the province at large celebrates BC’s history, people, and culture, footy fans will converge on BC Place to celebrate the best BC footy has to offer.
Sharing a pitch with their parent club, the two Whitecaps Academies will be feeling quite comfortable having won their semi-final match-ups convincingly and will be looking to win their divisions at home. Key to a Whitecaps men victory will be to deny Victoria’s Michael Henman, who has been a goal scoring machine with 8 goals over 13 matches.
Regular Season Record – Whitecaps MLS Academy vs Victoria Highlanders
April 30: VWFC Academy 1-1 Highlanders
June 4: VWFC Academy 0-1 Highlanders
The women’s match will be the one to watch for those who like high-scoring games, however. Both sides, Unity and the Whitecaps Girls, have been goal factories during the regular season with 35 and 54 goals-for respectively. No doubt Leah Parsons and Joven Sandhu will have their work cut out for them, but depending on whose defensive line is stronger, it will give one side an edge over the other.
Regular Season Record – Whitecaps Girls Academy vs Unity FC
June 14: VWFC Academy 6-1 Unity FC
July 15: VWFC Academy 5-4 Highlanders
The League1 BC Finals will be taking place on Saturday, August 5th at BC Place during the BC Day Long Weekend. Fans can purchase tickets to see the doubleheader live in person through the link here. For those unable to attend live, the matches will be streamed online to the League1 BC Youtube channel.
Header Image Photo Credit: Tom Ewasiuk / AFTN Canada