Senior players on the Sardis Falcons soccer squad, left to right, include Alexis Victor, Jack Norman, Connor Harnett, Tobias Regehr, Ben Harris, Yuuon Kiyama, Malakai Moore, Alex McNeil and Dylan Marchuk. (Eric J. Welsh/ Chilliwack Progress)

Senior players on the Sardis Falcons soccer squad, left to right, include Alexis Victor, Jack Norman, Connor Harnett, Tobias Regehr, Ben Harris, Yuuon Kiyama, Malakai Moore, Alex McNeil and Dylan Marchuk. (Eric J. Welsh/ Chilliwack Progress)

Last dance for Sardis Falcon seniors as soccer squad plays in provincials

The Chilliwack school returns to the year-end tournament after placing 12th out of 16 teams in 2019

For nine seniors on the Sardis soccer squad, next week’s provincials present an opportunity to go out on top.

Their Falcons are good. If the bounces go their way, they’re good enough to win it all and bring the school its first-ever AAA soccer banner. But win or lose, the tournament in Burnaby (Nov. 25-27) will be about the experience, savouring the last moments of their high school careers.

“In our final home game of the regular season, I kind of stepped back and thought, ‘This is it. This is the last time I’ll play at Sardis,’” Ben Harris said. “No matter how it ends up at provincials, the best feeling will be being with the guys one last time.”

Sardis went 9-1 in league play this season and punched their ticket to provincials with a 3-2 home field win over the G.W. Graham Grizzlies on a rain-soaked day.

Beating a crosstown rival was the highlight of the season to date. Sardis twice overcame one-goal deficits to do it, with Connor Harnett scoring the winning goal.

“The moment after that, the celebration with the team was just phenomenal,” he said.

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Qualifying for provincials was the goal when the season began and the Falcons were a confident bunch. They started with a 3-0 season-opening win over WJ Mouat, and other than one loss (to the Abbotsford Panthers), they left a trail of bruised and battered opponents in their wake.

“We made it to provincials our previous season, two years ago, and that was the goal we were aiming for 100 per cent,” Harnett said. “We didn’t do too well last time we were at provincials. We lost our first two games in the group stage. We ended up winning one and finished 12th out of 16 teams. This time we’re looking for a better result.”

The biggest lesson the Falcons took away from 2019 is that every opponent is tough and slow starts are killer.

“We’ve had a strong talk among our team about how we’re no longer playing Eastern Valley opponents,” Harnett said. “All of us know we’re going to have to be going 110 per cent, winning every ball, completing passes, getting back and just playing proper soccer.”

Harnett describes the Falcons as a rough group, well organized and hard working. It’s never one striker or one center back winning the game for Sardis. It’s a full team effort from front to back.

“We definitely have a strong team, maybe even stronger than we were two years ago, so we’re going into it with a lot of hope,” Harris added. “It can be tough being a relatively small school from Chilliwack going up against big schools from Vancouver, but I have full trust in this team and I hope we can get the job done.

“If anything’s going to pull us across the line, it’s going to be our fighting spirit and our trust in each other.”

Head coach Shaun Calver said the school’s best ever showing at provincials was a third place finish in 2007. He believes this year’s team has a chance to win it all.

“We are a strong team with no weaknesses. We will be tough to beat,” he said. “A top five finish is possible, and with a bit of luck, who knows what might happen.”

See bcsssc-com.webs.com/aaa-provincial-championships for more tournament info.


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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