Representing their school at provincial championships for the first time since the 1970s, there wasn’t much that could dampen the spirits of Earl Marriott’s senior boys soccer team last week.
But a scorekeeping error nearly did it.
After finishing 2-1 in round-robin play, with a 3-1 loss to McNair Secondary and wins over Mount Baker, 7-2, and Dover Bay, 2-0, the Mariners thought they had done enough to finish first in their pool, thus ensuring they’d be playing for a medal in the playoff rounds, as the top team from each of the tourney’s four pools play for a podium spot.
However, during their game against Dover Bay, it was discovered that a scorekeeping glitch had them with one less goal than they’d actually scored – a fact that was made more painful when the Mariners had a potential third goal disallowed in the last 10 minutes against Dover Bay, due to a close offside call.
“That was very upsetting for the boys – they were all sure it was in,” said EMS coach Nathalie LaRoche.
Even with the win, they were still one goal shy of North Vancouver’s Argyle Pipers for first in the pool.
“I’ve never seen so many long faces,” said LaRoche. “I had to go in and pep them up, and tell them they still had fifth place to play for.”
Soon after her pep talk, however, the scoring mistake was caught, and LaRoche was summoned to an emergency meeting, where it was determined that, since Marriott and Argyle had tied, first place would be determined by penalty kicks – immediately.
“I had to rush back and tell the team – the energy just turned around 100 per cent. It was like a brand-new team,” LaRoche explained.
The penalty kicks went the Mariners’ way, led by goalkeeper Cam Frost; the winning effort was also aided by Argyle’s first shooter, who rang his shot off the post.
“That was a very emotional moment for the team – and for the parents and coaches, too,” LaRoche said.
In the Mariners’ first playoff game – with the winner advancing to the title tilt – they drew the always tough St. George’s Saints. And though the Saints won 2-1 and advanced to finals where they eventually lost to the Enver Creek Cougars (who beat EMS in Valley finals), the team’s head coach paid a big compliment to the South Surrey squad.
“He said we were the biggest threat to his team in the whole tournament,” LaRoche said.
The loss bumped Marriott to the bronze-medal match, where they defeated South Burnaby 1-0; captain and player-coach Sean Einarsson scored the game’s lone goal.
“Third place was such a huge achievement for these boys,” LaRoche said. “They were an (underdog) team at the start of the year, but they just kept getting better and better as the season went along.
“They’re so proud of themselves and what they’ve done.”
After the tournament, Einarsson was awarded the Golden Boot award after leading the tournament with seven goals, along with three others who shared the honour.
Frost was also named the tournament’s top goalkeeper, and Luis Zavala was the Mariners’ winner of the Commissioner’s Trophy, which is handed out to one “unsung hero” from each team, as selected by that team’s coach.
“Luis doesn’t get a lot of attention because he plays defence, but he played outstanding all season, and made a huge difference for us,” LaRoche said.