The Whistler boys high school soccer team knocked off rivals Pemberton and perennial favourites West Point Grey Academy last week to advance to the provincial A division championships for small schools (80 or fewer boys in Grades 11 and 12).
The team includes four international students and some students in Grade 10. They enjoyed limited time to train, with a late start to summer, early winters, and just one or two practice times each week. They also came from behind twice to earn their spot in the provincials.
After playing two exhibition games, the Whistler Storm entered a two-game round robin tournament last week where they defeated Fraser Valley Christian 8-0. They played their next match against West Point Grey, losing 1-0, but advanced to the semi-finals.
In their semi-final game, Whistler played one of its best games ever against Pemberton, tying 1-1 through regulation time and overtime before going to a shootout. Head coach Todd Bush said it was one of the most exhilarating games he has ever witnessed. Whistler won, and advanced to the finals against West Point Grey.
That game was also tied 1-1 until Will Robson found the net in overtime.
The provincials take place from Nov. 6 to 8 in Victoria, against the top A teams from other school zones.
The team includes Ben Popp, Daniel Beidermann, Francesco Ruggiero, Ethan Fairley, Casey Svejkovsky, Tacuma Ida, Jacob McPhail, Eric Stronach, Agustino Petroni, Johannes Heisenberg, Will Robson, David Mellor, Jesse Melamed, Reis Iaconetti-Bush, Harrison Shrimpton, Cam Baker, Bobby Bunbury and Graham Williamson. The head coaches are Dave Robson and Todd Bush, and the assistants are Patricio Cabrera and Martin “Mel” Mellor.
Peter Shrimpton, president of the Whistler Youth Soccer Club and a fan of the team, credited the strength of the club system for the high school team’s performance, and believes they have a chance at finishing in the top three in Victoria.
“Essentially they all play at the house level in an informal rec league with Squamish and Pemberton,” he said. “They never have this kind of high level competition, and so I would attribute a lot of their drive and skill at this stage to having a strong Pemberton high school team with which the Whistler players have a very healthy rivalry.”
One sentiment expressed by the coaches was that it was too bad that Pemberton did not advance to the provincials as well, to represent the corridor and keep the rivalry alive.
“The only disappointment was that Pemberton didn’t qualify with us,” said Shrimpton.