Coastal FC defeated Croatia SC to advance to the next round of provincial tournament action. (Ryan Saunders/ photo)

Coastal FC defeated Croatia SC to advance to the next round of provincial tournament action. (Ryan Saunders/ photo)

Coastal FC beat Croatia, advance in men’s soccer provincials

Jake Starheim scores twice, Dave Hicks solid in net in 3-1 victory Saturday in South Surrey

Coastal FC’s premier men’s soccer team has advanced into the second round of provincials, after a victory Saturday afternoon against a familiar foe – Croatia SC of the Vancouver Metro Soccer League.

Coastal won the game 3-1, and now advance into quarter-finals of the 16-team tournament. This Saturday, they’ll play another VMSL squad, Club Inter, with the winner advancing to semifinals.

Against Croatia – which defeated Coastal FC members during provincials a few years back, when most of the Coastal crew played for a North Delta-based team – Coastal was led offensively by Jake Starheim, who had two goals and also helped set up a third.

“They dominated us pretty good back then… so it was nice to get a win against them,” he said.

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Despite his two-goal effort, Starheim, gave most of the credit for the victory to goalkeeper Dave Hicks, who Starheim said kept the score close in the early stages, when Croatia was controlling the play.

“We could’ve been down two or three if not for him,” Starheim said. “He kept us in the game.

“They had a lot of chances, and he was the reason we were able to pull it out.”

Down 1-0 late in the first half, Coastal tied the game just before halftime “and then just built some momentum from there,” Starheim said.

“It was a good chance for us to show some character as a team. We could’ve easily folded it up, but everyone was happy with how we battled back, and never put our heads down. I definitely think it was a moment of growth for our team.”

This Saturday’s game against Inter is scheduled for Saturday, noon at South Surrey Athletic Park.

A week after avenging the earlier provincial loss to Croatia, this weekend’s tilt will give the Coastal squad a chance to continue its “retribution tour” of sorts. While playing in North Delta in 2015, Starheim explained, Club Inter beat them in provincial semifinals in extra time.

“This is a really good chance for us to get some revenge,” Starheim said. “We’re getting these revenge games out of the way, back-to-back, and it’s going to be a good test for us. We’re excited to get another crack at these guys.

“We know moving forward we have to get off to a hotter start. We could’ve been punished for our slow start this week… we definitely can’t get away with that every week.”