Peace Arch United are champs again.
The venerable men’s premier soccer side won its second consecutive Pakenham Cup with a 4-1 win over North Delta SC Saturday at South Surrey Athletic Park. The team now has five Pakenham titles since 2005, and has also won the “double” – a Fraser Valley Soccer League premier title and the Pakenham Cup in the same season – in three of the past five years. And according to PAU captain John Collins, it’s a championship run that’s unprecedented in the FVSL.
“As far as I know, it’s something that’s never been done, so to have done it now three times, that’s pretty special for this team,” said Collins, who has been on the squad since 2002.
On Saturday, Peace Arch jumped on the underdogs from North Delta early, when Ryan Horvath opened the scoring in the game’s first minute.
“It was a counter-attack goal. One of their defenders made a blunder with the ball, and we jumped on it and made a through-ball to Ryan,” explained Collins.
“It was a really good start.”
North Delta tied the game 20 minutes later, however, but Peace Arch restored its one-goal lead before halftime when Taki Vohalis made it 2-1. In the second half, Peace Arch “really started to light it up,” Collins said.
Cory Gibson made it 3-1 early in the second frame, and Steve Dormer tacked on PAU’s fourth goal late in the game to really put it out of reach.
Despite winning by three goals, Collins gave credit to the young North Delta side, but suggested his squad’s experience served them well in such a big game.
“It was a close game, and North Delta is a real scrappy group – they never gave up, never gave us much,” he said. “But it’s one of those kind of games – it’s a one-game (winner takes all) cup final, so sometimes people get nervous out there.”
Peace Arch’s ball control advantage, especially in North Delta SC’s end of the field, also helped the home team wear down its younger foes, who finished eighth in the premier league regular season, 21 points back of Peace Arch.
“We had the ball a lot more in the right areas – and a lot in their half,” Collins said. “That created a lot of scoring chances for us – their goalie had to make three or four big saves for them.”
In the other championship games Saturday – all played at South Surrey Athletic Park – the Port Moody Gunners beat the Poco City Rover FC 3-0 to win the U21 Cup, and in the Masters Cup final, Poco City Castillians FC beat White Rock United 3-1. Dominique Briand scored the lone goal for White Rock. In the Presidents’ Cup, Golden Ears Inter beat the Peace Arch Nomads 3-1. Dan Hill scored all three goals for Inter, while Andrew Linnett tallied for Peace Arch.
With the Pakenham victory, Peace Arch’s premier squad will now prepare for a third championship – the BC Provincial Cup, which begins preliminary-round games this weekend.
Because they finished first in the FVSL regular season, PAU bypasses the prelim games, and will begin the provincial tournament the weekend of April 16 against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.
Even with the break between games, Collins insisted his squad won’t take much of a break and will continue to practise as much as usual.
“We won’t be taking our foot off the gas at all,” he said. “You don’t want to get rusty this time of year, not at all. And we’ve been pretty luck with injuries – we’ve got a full board of (healthy) bodies right now, so there’s no reason for us to rest.”