There were 47 schools competing in the “A” division provincial soccer tournament this past weekend, which is reserved for schools that have 80 or fewer boys in Grades 11 and 12.
Whistler Secondary was one of those teams, after a strong showing in the zone championships in September that included a shootout win against Pemberton in the semi-finals. The team includes some younger students in Grade 10 and four international students. The team practices once or twice a week.
They also don’t compete regularly as a team, with only a short window in fall and spring to play other schools. They play most of their soccer in house leagues against teams from Pemberton and Squamish.
Whistler advanced through the round robin with a second place finish and faced St. Anns of Kamloops in the quarter final round. Whistler dominated with five goals, including two goals each from Eric Stronach and Jerome Cabrera, while goaltender Casey Svejkovsky stopped all but one of St. Ann’s shots.
That put Whistler in the semifinals, where they faced host team St. Andrews. Whistler opened up the scoring in the first half, with Stronach netting on a feed from Takuma Ida. St. Andrews scored 10 minutes later off a free kick opportunity, but Whistler would take the lead again before the half with Stronach putting away a pass from Cam Baker.
Whistler had a tougher second half as the rain and injuries began to take a toll. Three starters were injured going into the second half, and two other players were limping. St. Andrews took advantage and tied the match at the 10 minute mark at 2-2, then scored two more unanswered goals to win 4-2.
That put Whistler in a battle for the bronze medal against West Point Grey Academy, the school that beat them at the zone championships earlier in the season.
Whistler managed to keep the game scoreless through the first half, but West Point Grey scored three unanswered goals to stand on the podium.
Placing fourth overall was an achievement for the Whistler players. Whistler Secondary has only competed in the provincials once before, when they hosted the tournament four years ago.
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.
The coaches congratulate the players for their efforts, and their respect for their coaches, the opposition and the game of soccer. They also thanked volunteers and parents for their assistance, including Whistler Secondary athletic director Peter Train, Principal Bev Oakley, the Whistler Secondary PAC, and sponsors at Creekside Market, Nesters, IGA, the Village Grocery Store and Sportstop.