The Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons won’t admit it but there is a score to settle with the Lambrick Park Lions when the two meet in today’s (Nov. 30) Colonist Cup, the high school boys’ city soccer championship at the University of Victoria.
Kick off is 5:30 p.m. under the lights at Centennial Stadium.
GNS is the holder of the city cup for two years running, despite being one of the smaller schools in the city. Until this season the school had fewer than 81 boys in grades 11 and 12. That changed this year, though not by much, but GNS proved they really are an elite school team in the province, winning the provincial AA championship in Burnaby last week.
Here’s the twist. Despite being the only team to defeat GNS (7-1) during regulation play this season (there were a couple of shootout losses in tournament play), Lambrick Park (8-0) didn’t make the AA provincials. Lambrick beat GNS during the teams’ only previous meeting this year.
Host St. Michaels Blue Jags (6-2) upset the Lions 4-2 in the AA Islands semifinals earlier in November, and went on to finish 12th.
“(That) was a disappointment, as (we) went in as the top team in the Lower Island,” Lambrick coach Steve Legg said. “SMUS probably knew they had to perform well and the fact we came out flat resulted in a loss. A hard lesson that our team had to accept and learn from.”
Next to GNS, Lambrick is one of the smallest schools in Greater Victoria, with a perennial AA class size, and it’s also without any rep players in the youth high performance league, Legg said. His side has had time to reorganize its focus and motivation for the Colonist Cup and knows it cannot ride on great results from the past season.
It just ‘seems like an academy’
The success of GNS’ soccer teams is nothing new in the local soccer scene. What is new, however, is the draw the school’s having. Families of would-be soccer players are starting to consider GNS as an option.
“GNS is not an academy,” said Hugh Williams, the school’s soccer director.
“Some people call us one because of our structure. But we don’t recruit.”
Having said that, success breeds success. “We have a saying that ‘we grow our own’ but, we have (families) making the choice to (send their kids) to GNS (for the soccer).”
GNS boys make it three
It takes one to know one, as Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons ended the ‘Cinderella story’ of Burnaby’s Cariboo Hill Chargers in the AA provincial final with a 2-0 win.
“Cariboo hasn’t won much, so this was uncharted territory for them,” Williams said. “But they beat pre-tourney favourites Sands and Okanagan-Mission (in a shootout), so were very deserving.”
It wasn’t too long ago that GNS was a cinderella story, a small single-A school defeating much larger AAA teams for the city championship, as well as the past two provincial A championships.
The first half of the AA final played out a typical, tentative fashion of championship games, Williams said. A scoreless first half with neither team attacking too strong.
But in the second half GNS picked it up and were quite dominant.
“(The players) sensed a goal was coming and they got it,” Williams said.
GNS’ Fergus Hall headed in a Jyotish Khanna free kick.
“We didn’t want a repeat of the semifinal when we gave up the tying goal to Windsor with five minutes to go and had to win in overtime.”
Cariboo pressed hard, but it meant they were vulnerable and co-captain Sean Pickersgill scored on a breakaway that started midfield.
Pickersgill was voted tournament MVP with co-captain Conor Hannigan voted to the Commissioner’s 11.
In Williams’ eyes there was no better goalie in the tourney than Rab Bruce-Lockhart of GNS but that award went to the keeper with Hugh Boyd secondary.
To get to the semifinal GNS had to win its pool, which it did with an 8-0 win over Golden, 1-1 tie against D.W. Poppy and 3-0 win over Hugh Boyd, edging the latter school by one goal in a tie-breaker.