Within the span of a few weeks, the Earl Marriott Mariners junior boys soccer team faced off against Queen Elizabeth Secondary – both times with a banner on the line.
In each instance, the North Surrey school, playing at home, got the better of their South Surrey opponents, first in the Surrey championship and then again last week in the South Fraser regional final.
“Same team, same field, same score,” said Marriott c0-coach Nick McQuillan of the pair of 2-1 losses.
Despite the losses, McQuillan – who is in Grade 12 at EMS and stepped in, alongside Chris Nwandu, to coach the junior team after regular coach Chris Fraser was unable take the reins this season due to an injury and other commitments – said he was still proud that his group was able to advance all the way to two championship games.
“At the start of the season, I never really even thought about us getting to one final, so to make it to two is quite surreal,” McQuillan said. “I would have been happy just making it to one, but these guys, they just gave it their all… we came up short in the end, but to get there, it was fantastic.
“I’m really proud of them.”
The winning goal in the South Fraser final came in extra time, on a “through ball” that got through the Marriott defence.
“It was a close call to be offside, but it was a pretty nice goal, I have to say,” McQuillan said.
Marriott’s goal was scored by Ian Khadra.
Queen Elizabeth, McQuillan said, was a team entirely made up of Grade 10 players, while the South Surrey team was a mix of players in Grade 9 and 10, with two Grade 8s mixed in as well; with many players eligible to play one more year at the junior level, McQuillan said they’ll be among title contenders next fall as well.
“They were just the stronger team, but we’ll get ‘em next year,” he said.
McQuillan said he’d love to come back and coach the group if he ends up living in the area after graduating in the spring, though he noted that his post-secondary plans were still undecided.
“If I’m here, I’d love to come back. It was good to get this under my belt and get into coaching. I loved it,” he said.
McQuillan and a few friends also coached a Coastal Soccer U7 team last year, he said.
Fraser was quick to praise the young coach for stepping up and taking over the team this season, adding that McQuillan “did a fantastic job with his group.”