Vancouver Metro Soccer League
 
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Wednesday, April 1, 2020
WEEK 10

WEEKLY REPORT

It is “Back to the Future” at the top of the VMSL’s Premier Division with Rino’s Tigers restored to first place, as the league leader changes again for the fourth week running!

The relegation picture in the top flight has changed as well with Provincial and National Champions CCB LFC United climbing out of the drop zone after a big win over one of their local rivals.  The promotion and relegation battles all across the league remain tight as we approach the midway point in the Open divisions with all the races still too close to call.

PREMIER DIVISION RECAP

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Friday Night Fixtures

Coquitlam Town Centre East – Coquitlam Metro Ford Wolves vs. ICSF Columbus FC
Burnaby Lake West #3 – Club Inter EDC Burnaby vs. NVFC Norvan
Newton Athletic Park #1 – SFC Pegasus vs. Burnaby Selects White Eagles
Newton Athletic Park #2 – BCT Rovers Hurricanes vs. CCB LFC United




It was an important chance for Coquitlam Metro Ford Wolves to continue their march towards the safety of mid-table and away from the relegation scrap when they hosted ICSF Columbus FC on Friday night.  Metro Ford were looking to make it back to back wins for the first time this season and got off to a perfect start when Andre Pietramala had them ahead inside ten minutes.  That lead would hold until the second half when Naoya Inoue played in a perfect ball for ICSF’s leading scorer Adriano Negri and he smashed an equalizer into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area.  As usual Negri led the charge for Columbus, as they continued to seek their first win of the season, and he as well as winger Ylya Malek caused problems for Coquitlam most of the evening.  Unfortunately for Columbus, Coquitlam veteran Carlo Basso had the home side back in front just five minutes after they had tied the match.  Despite strong performances from midfielder Luigi Polisi and fullback Marcello Caporale, it was Metro Ford who found the next goal in this match, with Joseph Powell scoring late to make the points safe.  The search for a win for Columbus will now turn to their final opponent before the reverse fixtures begin when they host Club Inter EDC Burnaby this weekend.  As for Coquitlam, they are in for a stiff test against the once again top of the table Rino’s Tigers.



Speaking of Club Inter, they were looking to climb back into the top half of the table at the expense of the team that had supplanted them after last week, NVFC Norvan.  Finishing in the top six begins to take on far more importance with teams wanting to leave themselves in the best possible position to qualify for the Provincial Cup at the end of the season.  This match went in spells with Inter controlling things early and getting a pair of quick-fire goals ten minutes before half time.  Kiya Darbandi had the opener before Graham Smith doubled their lead three minutes later.  In the second half Norvan increased their pressure and nearly pulled level in roughly the same manner as Inter.  Within ten minutes of the restart, Merlin Fisk volleyed a cross from Rodrick Watts back across the face of goal, but Luke Monger could only redirect the ball onto the inside of the post.  Five minutes later Devin Delaney suffered the same fate when his howitzer from well outside the area cannoned back off the post as well.  In the end Justin Bint would earn a clean sheet for EDC, but he certainly owed his goal frame some of the credit!  Regardless of the frustrating outing for Norvan, defender Rhys Harnden played well and prevented things from getting even worse when he cleared an Inter chance off the line.  Norvan will hope to carry those positives into their meeting with Pegasus on the North Shore this weekend while Inter take on Columbus.



Out in Surrey, it was a straightforward home win for SFC Pegasus over Burnaby Selects White Eagles.  For Burnaby, both their leading scorers, Matlash Vladyslav and Vuk Erbez were unavailable due to suspension and this appeared to dent their offensive thrust.  Chetan Jhooty opened the scoring from the penalty spot for Pegasus just before the half hour mark and a few minutes later Eric Ray doubled that lead to make it 2-0 at half time.  Veteran Azad Palani, who was on double duty this weekend playing both Open and Masters, scored late to make it 3-0.  As mentioned, without two of their top offensive weapons, White Eagles were not able to muster much in the way of chances and Peg goalkeeper Jasdeep Lally saw off everything that did end up coming his way to record a clean sheet.  Pegasus are away to Norvan this weekend in a match that could have top six implications, while Burnaby will look for a better effort with their stars back in the lineup at home to BCT Rovers Hurricanes on Sunday.



On the adjacent pitch at Newton Athletic there was a Surrey derby between the last two Provincial and National Champions.  CCB LFC United were looking for their first win since they inherited the National title from local rivals BCT Rovers Hurricanes.  Beyond just the derby bragging rights, this match had massive importance to both teams, currently at opposite ends of the table.  Rovers were briefly on top of the table before a loss to Croatia saw them supplanted in first place while CCB were still looking to really shift their VMSL campaign into gear as they came into the weekend among the relegation places.  To that end, it was CCB who started the brighter of the two sides as they came flying out of the gate in what has become somewhat of a trend for them of late.  Boris Si pounced on a careless turnover from the Hurricanes goalie in the opening minutes, but flashed his effort over the bar.  Not that they would have to wait too much longer though, as it took only five minutes for them to strike in this match when Rylan Sangha lifted the ball over the BCT back line and it fell perfectly for Jovan Blagojevic to bury into the far corner.  A few minutes later Si found Mamadi Camara who beat a pair of defenders before scoring his first goal of the season.  Blagojevic then took over and could have increased the CCB lead even further, but was twice denied by the Hurricanes goalkeeper.  In the second half tempers flared, which was perhaps not surprising given the stakes in this game, resulting in Camara and BCT’s Navkaran Bains both being sent off.  The reduction in numbers did little to change the momentum, however, as CCB continued to be on top.  Blagojevic had a further pair of chances repelled by the keeper and Kalem Scott was hard done by after he went on a surging run down the line and into the area, only to be denied by a stunning save.  Hurricanes appeared to be at less than their best with no signs of leading scorer Nick Soolsma and no replacement for the suspended Pavi Dhillon.  While attackers Sangha and Blagojevic will dominate the headlines for CCB with their offensive work, defender Ryan McCurdy had a top performance at the back helping goalkeeper Luke O’Shea keep a clean sheet.  The win lifts CCB out of the relegation zone and they will hope to continue to climb the table this week when they face title challengers West Van.  Meanwhile, Hurricanes will try to bounce back when they travel to Burnaby Selects White Eagles.


Weekend Fixtures
Ambleside D – West Van FC vs. Croatia SC
Burnaby Lake West #4 – Guildford FC FASA vs. Rino’s Tigers


New leaders Croatia SC were desperate to keep their place on top of the league, but it would not be easy as they were off to Ambleside to face one of the teams they supplanted in first place, West Van FC.  Much like their encounter with another title contender, Rovers Hurricanes, the week before, this match was a close-run affair.  It was a defensive chess match and Croatia’s Eddie Tsen exemplified this with a top performance at left back.  Chances were at a premium but a goal from West Van’s Michael Winter before half time proved to be the difference.  There was to be no magic this week from the visitor’s leading scorer Daniel Davidson nor anyone else in a Croatia shirt as West Van keeper Stephen Welle registered his league leading third clean sheet of the season.  Croatia’s Ante Boskovic was sharp in goal on the day as well, but the lone blemish on his effort spoiled an otherwise tidy effort.  The loss was Croatia’s first since another 1-0 reversal on Opening Day to Rino’s Tigers and it meant that their stay at the top of the Premier Division table lasted only a week.  They will look to reclaim their perch this week when they face Guildford FC FASA at home on Friday night.  West Van will also be looking for a chance to move into top spot when they tangle with CCB LFC United in Surrey.



That result opened the door for Rino’s Tigers to reclaim first place and they certainly took that opportunity when they faced Guildford FC FASA on Saturday night.  Ibrahima Basse gave the home side a surprise lead a quarter of the way through the match, but that lead was very fleeting.  Within a minute Rino’s top scorer, Farivar Torabi, had them back on level terms.  Ryhs Lambert, who was a standout performer in the match, combined with Kris Luke, who was also in top form, before he fired in a cross that Torabi met at the near post. Ten minutes after tying the match up, Torabi gave Rino’s the lead when he lept acrobatically to meet a cross from Omar Rostant.  Luke would then have the chance to get himself on the scoresheet when Vuk Ceranic, Lambert’s partner in a dynamic midfield pairing, sent him in on a breakaway, but his shot was kicked out by the FASA keeper.  This almost gave Guildford a life line and they looked to get back on level terms before the break when they took advantage of some poor defending by Rino’s on a free kick.  The ball fell invitingly for the FASA attackers but Tigers keeper Lukas Strauts made a spectacular triple save from close range to deny them an equalizer.  Instead, on the stroke of half time Ceranic made it a two goal lead for Rino’s when he got a glancing touch on a driven free kick delivered by Filip Capek.  In the second half Torabi took centre stage adding three further goals to make it an incredible five goal outing and to lift himself to the top of the Premier scoring chart with 13 on the season so far.  His first of the second half came when Eijin Kishimoto headed a Rostant corner kick back across the face of goal and Torabi poked it home.  The next when he was the first to react to a rebound from a Logan Hooper shot and he rounded out his day when Ceranic and Luke again combined to get a cross into him and he made no mistake with the finish.  Still, Torabi had further chances when his freekick was destined for the goal but clipped a teammate and then the post and he hit the post again with a lovely finessed effort late in the match.  Basse would claw back a consolation marker late for FASA, however, there was little he could do to prevent his side suffering a sixth straight loss.  The result sees Guildford drop into the relegation places and they will try to immediately climb to safety this weekend, though they are set for another stiff test against title defenders Croatia.  After being unceremoniously dethroned three weeks ago, Rino’s now find themselves back atop the league table and will hope to consolidate their position when they take on Coquitlam Metro Ford at home on Saturday.

ELSEWHERE IN THE VMSL...

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In Division 1, for just the second time this season league leaders Richmond FC Hibernian dropped points.  This time they were held to a 1-1 draw against Coquitlam Metro Ford Lupi when Andrew Peat scored to cancel out an early Zach Karmel tally for Richmond that brought Karmel within one goal of teammate Sebastian Dzikowski for the league lead with ten goals.  That point leaves Coquitlam in a tight battle for second place with three other teams.  Westside FC A were 4-1 winners over VAFC Santos thanks to a brace from Andrew Mazzone which has them tied with Lupi in fourth place, one point behind Burnaby Metro Athletic and GN Sporting Club.  Those two teams went head to head this weekend and it was Burnaby who emerged as 3-1 winners, coming from behind after GN took the lead through Jagbir Sangha.  The first of two goals from Diego Govantes tied things before the game turned following a second yellow card to GN’s Jasdeep Mattoo, allowing Tipo Conteh to score the winning goal and Govantes to add an insurance marker.  The win moves Burnaby level with GN as they battle for second place and promotion.  At the other end of the table our Match of the Week saw all the tight battling that is expected of a relegation battle.  Ahmed Ibrhim got NVFC Norvan Storm off to a dream start when he scored in the second minute, but John Drummond dragged Vancouver Greencaps level before half time.  From there it was a tense battle, but there would be no further goals, only a pair of red cards for Drummond and Norvan’s Mohamed Salaheldin for an incident in the second half.  The single point leaves Greencaps still in last place but it was enough to lift the Storm out of the relegation zone and they will hope to be able to continue to pick up the points they require to reach safety.  Meanwhile there were a pair of mid-table matches that saw Vancouver Strikers beat Westside FC Sierra 3-1, with Aaron De Jong scoring twice in the win, and Club Inter EDC Burnaby pick up a second victory on the spin with a 3-2 success over Rino’s Fury.



The Match of the Week for Week 11 is back at the top of the table with Burnaby Metro Athletic, who have climbed into second place, getting their chance to match up against first place Richmond FC Hibernian.  Richmond remain undefeated and now boast the division’s top two scorers in Sebastian Dzikowski and Zach Karmel who have ten and nine respectively.  Those 19 goals are just one fewer than Burnaby has managed as a team so far this season!  Burnaby are unbeaten in five straight matches and have climbed into the crucial second promotion place.  However, if they want to remain there when the schedule reaches the halfway point after this weekend’s matches, they will likely need to find a way to hand unbeaten Richmond a first loss of the season. This match is at UBC South on Friday night at 8pm.




In Masters Premier, there was a stunning result Monday night as second bottom NVFC Norvan M-A beat league leaders SFC Pegasus M TU 3-2.  Blake Burgontwice tied the game for Norvan before completing his hattrick with a late winner.  This result has implication at both ends of the table.  At the bottom, it moves Norvan level with Westside FC M-A, who beat FC Romania M-A 5-0 on the back of a Justin Student brace and a Jamie Locke shutout, which leaves Romania isolated in last place nine points behind both Norvan and Westside.  At the top it opens the door for all of SFC’s title rivals, most of whom now hold a game in hand over them.  In our Match of the Week ICSF Columbus M-A and PCOV M-A split the points in a 1-1 draw with Blair Robertson equalizing for Columbus from the penalty spot after Sheldin Maistry gave PCOV a first half lead.  That puts both those sides just two points back of Pegasus along with Club Inter EDC Burnaby M and West Van FC M who also drew this weekend after the match between them finished 2-2.




The Match of the Week for Week 11 is again between two of the sides in the title fight, this time with PCOV hosting West Van.  The first meeting of the season between these teams was won decisively by West Van, 3-0, so PCOV will be looking to get a measure of revenge on home soil.  While both teams are just two points back of leaders Pegasus, West Van hold two games in hand over the Surrey side, while PCOV only have one extra game to play.  If West Van can again claim all three points, suddenly they might find themselves in the driver’s seat for the title race.  This match is at Empire North on Friday night at 8pm.



Across the rest of the league, for the first time there is some breathing room in at least one of the Division 2 races.  In 2A Metropolitan FC A have opened up a three point lead at the top following their 3-0 win over Marpole Tropics in which Pablo Zubiria notched a brace.  That result, combined with Meraloma FC A being held to a 1-1 draw by FC Romania A means Metropolitan are the first team to really take hold of the title race in 2A.  They are by no means cruising, though, as there remains a pack of teams ready to pounce should they in any way falter.  In 2B it is still a tightly knotted pack of basically seven teams all within a sniff of the top as we head towards the halfway point of the season.  A 2-0 win for Vancouver Harps FC A over GFC United Lions A, who came into the weekend as leaders, means that Harps are back on top along with Strathcona United A who beat NVFC Sarajevo A 5-0.  It is equally as tight at the bottom of the two pools with tight relegation contests.  Gastown FC and Vancouver Greencaps B each earned valuable points in 1-1 draws with Binger’s Army and Astro FC respectively which sees them both level on points at the bottom of 2B.  Meanwhile, in 2A, just four points separate Westside FC Juniors in ninth, after an important 2-1 win over Vancouver Rangers A, and BCT Apna Tigers FC who sit last following a 6-1 loss at the hands of Coquitlam Metro Ford Lobos.  After ten matches the final perfect record in the VMSL fell this week when 3A leaders Siaron were beaten 2-1 by BCT Hurricane Tigers.  All the goals came in a hectic early spell, but an Anmoll Atwal brace spelled the end of Siaron’s invincible dream.  In the match we said would be worth keeping an eye on, West Van FC B came from a goal down to beat West Hounds FC 3-1 and gain some separation at the top of 3B along with SFC Temple A who beat Royal City FC also coming from behind, this time from 2-0 down, to win 3-2 thanks to a couple of goals from Joshveer Kang.  Those two sides now face off this weekend to determine who will lead the way at the mid-point of the season.  In the Masters divisions favourites are emerging.  Over 45 Premier remains hotly contested but in Over 45 Division 1 Croatia SC Vatreni M-B have opened up a five point lead after Marko Gelo had a clean sheet in a 2-0 win over Rino’s Bulldogs M-B.  Similarly, in Over 45 Division 2 SFC Temple M-B now have a six point lead following a brace from Peter Singh that helped them to a 3-0 win and a league double over Vancouver Spartans.  Meanwhile, in Over 35 Division 1 Vancouver Harps FC M did in fact make it an entire calendar year without a league loss.  Four different players were on target in their 4-1 win over Croatia SC Vatreni M-A that also keeps them in first place by a single point.  This week a match worth keeping an eye on comes from the U21 Division where local rivals BCT Rovers Hurricanes U21 and Guildford FC U21 have the chance to close the gap on leaders Faly Academy Soccer U21 who are the last team to enjoy a bye week before the reverse fixtures begin. BCT and Guildford have the best two defensive records in the division so it is no surprise to see BCT’s Arjun Johal atop the shutout leader board with four clean sheets to his name.  Guildford’s Parm Dahmrait is no slouch though, having blanked his opponents three times already this season.  That match is at Newton Athletic Park #2 on Saturday night at 6pm.