For the Grade 9 members of Earl Marriott Secondary’s Grade 8/9 boys soccer team, Thursday afternoon’s Fraser Valley championship final was a long time coming.
Last year, as Grade 8s – playing against junior-aged competition – the young Mariners failed to win a game all season. But having returned this year with more experience, and buoyed by some new additions, the team found more success, culminating in the Valley title tilt, in which they defeated Langley Fundamental School 1-0 at Newton Athletic Park.
“It was nice to see the positive outcome for the members of our core group who never won a game all year last year,” said EMS head coach Chris Fraser. “I was really happy for them.”
Neither Langley nor Earl Marriott managed to muster much offensively through the first three-quarters of last week’s game. But in the 59th minute of the 70-minute affair, Marriott’s Simon Radcliffe broke the deadlock with a goal from the top of the six-yard box.
Fraser credited his team’s sound defensive play – and the play of goalkeepers Alex Amos-Schappert and Patrick Hipsz – for keeping the talented Langley squad at bay.
“We beat a very good team. Langley is one of the two best teams we played all year,” Fraser said. “They applied a lot of pressure, but we managed to keep it (scoreless) until near the end.”
Amos-Schappert made a handful of key first-half saves, Fraser pointed out, while Hipsz followed suit in the second half, and was also aided by centre-back Ryan Brown, who, with 15 minutes left to play, swept “a sure goal” off the line.