The Panorama Ridge team with their Boys AAA high school soccer provincial championship banner and trophy in Burnaby on Saturday. (submitted photo)

‘Special’ soccer win for Panorama Ridge in all-Surrey final at B.C. championships

AAA high school boys final was played Saturday in Burnaby

** This story has been updated

In an all-Surrey battle for the AAA Boys high school soccer championship, Panorama Ridge climbed a mountain again and won it all.

Undefeated this season, the Thunder earned a 3-0 victory over LA Matheson in the championship final game Saturday (Nov. 23) at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex West.

The victory was a sweet one for Panorama Ridge, who placed second at provincials last year.

“It’s special,” said Darryl Vanderark, who co-coaches the team. “I mean, it’s a long year, because last season we made the final, too, and lost. So coming back this year, you just know how hard it is to get back there.

“Even getting out of Surrey and making the provincials is extremely difficult,” he added, “because there are so many good teams here. It’s just a matter of keeping everyone focused, and all the kids knew what the goal was this year, but we didn’t want to talk about it – it was one game at a time, that kind of a thing.”

In Saturday’s final, Thunder goal-scorers were Jeevan Dhaliwal, Rosedeep Dhanoa and, in injury time, Armaan Bhagwani. The tourney MVP was Manmeet Jhutty.

Scores and final standings are posted to bcsssc-com.webs.com.

The Thunder roster is loaded with players who fell to Vancouver College in last year’s final – a loss they used as motivation to win it all this year.

“If you came in the locker room before a game, it’s a pretty calm and focused bunch, and they knew what they had to do,” Vanderark said. “Most of the team last year was Grade 11s and 10s, with only four Grade 12s, and all those guys were around this year, supporting and watching and came to a lot of the games. That was nice, too, because we had a lot of good alumni and fans at the school that supported us. That was nice to see.”

For LA Matheson, it was the first time in 50 years that a team representing the school had made a provincial final in any sport, according to coach Manmeet Sahota.

“Obviously it’s a really big deal for the school to make it this far,” he said.

“Four years ago we had never made provincials for any sport, ever, until our team went there. And we’ve now been to provincials four years in a row, so that first year, four years ago, was a really big deal for us, and part of that was just getting out of Surrey because the competition is so tough,” Sahota explained. “That’s an achievement on its own. And getting there four years in a row has been an amazing thing, and now getting to the final is just one step more for us.”

In the provincial semifinal last season, the Mustangs lost 1-0 to Panorama Ridge, who scored with about a minute left in overtime.

“That was very heartbreaking for us last year,” Sahota said, “so our motivation this year was to get to the final, which we did.”

The team lost a significant number of Grade 12s from last year’s squad.

“The makeup of the team this year was quite different,” Sahota said, “and the guys this year have had so much heart and determination, it’s unbelievable. I’m not sure where other teams are, in terms of where they play, but HPL is the highest level of (club) soccer here, and we have zero HPL players on our team, so that says something about our guys, how hard they worked to get to the final. They have talent, but it’s just that heart and determination that got them there, and they never second-guessed what they wanted to achieve, no fear.”

He said the team’s success at provincials has helped build school pride at LA Matheson.

“Our school hasn’t done so well athletically in its history, so it’s been really, really cool and the school has gotten behind it, and it’s developed a strong sense of culture, and even other teams in the school are inspired by this, to keep it going, to compete at the highest level. It’s neat to see, and it’s a bigger-picture thing at our school.”

At provincials, LA Matheson won both of its Pool D games Thursday (Nov. 21) in Burnaby, won Friday morning in a mean-nothing game and then triumphed once again Friday afternoon in a semifinal game, 1-0 over Handsworth in penalty kicks, to advance to Saturday’s championship final game.

In Pool A, Panorama Ridge also won twice Thursday, and beat Dr. Charles Best 2-1 Friday morning for a spot in the tournament’s other semifinal, played against Vancouver College, last year’s provincial champs. The Thunder won 1-0 on Friday afternoon, setting up Saturday’s all-Surrey final.

Guildford Park, the third Surrey team at provincials, lost both of its Pool B games on Thursday, by scores of 3-1 to Reynolds and 2-1 to Vancouver College. On Friday, Guildford Park beat Terry Fox 1-0, and on Saturday morning beat Rutland to place 13th in the provincial tournament.

Panorama Ridge’s team is co-coached by Vanderark and fellow teacher Paul Nowakowski, along with community coaches Haider Khan and Ryan Deo.

“It’s very exciting for everyone,” Vanderark said. “We’ll have the athletic awards night at the end of the year, and also a spirit assembly at the midpoint, and we’ll do a team wrap-up as well, and celebrate this, for sure.”

Players on the Panorama Ridge roster are Rosedeep Dhanoa, Miyab Fujii, Tajvir Hehar, Samir Dhaliwal, Saeed Khan, Avkaran Gill, Jeevan Dhaliwal, Gulshan Josan, Hargun Sidhu, Agam Grewal, Armaan Bhagwani, Justin Pannu, Jora Duhra, Gurman Gill, Sevak Lehal, Manmeet Jhutty, Veer Sandhu, Bhavish Deo, Harjap Dhanoa, Arjun Cheema, Zubair Khan and Karmveer Rai.

The LA Matheson roster includes Dapinder Singh, Parnoop Shergill, Aman Sidhu, Opi Dhillon, Ratish Chand, Mohkam Sivia, Jovan Samra, Sharif Taybur, Harvir Gill, Jujhar Gill, Yamen Natour, Hardeep Thandi, Moe Abdi, Shakeel Rai, Calvin Ayidan, Arpan Sangha, Prabdeep Mallhi, Harman Gill, Balraj Atwal and Maninder Randhawa.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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