In the end, they had no choice but to accept defeat.
Unable to counter the speed and tenacious pressure of Richmond Madrid on Sunday, the Prince George Kodiaks were blanked 4-0 in their final game at B.C. Soccer Association (BCSA) under-15 boys A Cup provincials at the Rotary Fields. The loss left them with a winless record of 0-4 and in last place in their four-team draw.
It was the same margin of victory as Richmond’s first win over the Kodiaks at the tournament, a 4-0 triumph Thursday in their opening round robin game, but the score may be a little misleading. Kodiaks assistant coach Lyle Eggen said the second of the two games was a better effort for the host squad.
“Every game that we played we competed very well, it’s just little things that you’re not going to learn playing up here in the north that they do so well in Vancouver that make a big difference, so the players are way better,” he said. “Everything that they do is a little bit quicker, and they played against some better competition than we have so it’s great for us.”
After Richmond scored the first two goals, Kodiaks striker Nikola Knezevic had an opportunity to cut their deficit in half, but he was denied twice, first by the goalie and again by the post.
“They had a miscommunication on their defence and it popped out and I just shot it as hard as I could, and the goalie fumbled it and I just ran in, tried to just get a toe on it and it just hit the post and bounced right back out,” Knezevic said. “It was pretty heartbreaking.”
Sandwiched between the two losses to Richmond was a 2-0 loss to the Surrey-based Guildford Rangers on Friday and a 2-1 setback to the Vancouver Selects on Saturday.
“We improved a lot over this weekend, skill-wise and teamwork and we don’t usually get to play teams of this calibre so it’s a good experience for everybody on the team,” Knezevic said.
Guildford captured the A Cup title with a 3-0 victory over Vancouver in the gold medal game Saturday afternoon. They finished without a loss in four games, winning three times and tying once. The Selects were ranked second entering the championship game. They finished the round robin with a record of 2-1.
Richmond, awarded the bronze after defeating the Kodiaks on Sunday, sported a round robin record of 1-1-1.
“The main thing I found differently between these guys and our guys was they didn’t waste time when they got the ball, their first touch was always to somewhere good, either outside back or just to make a good move and they all definitely had speed on us,” Kodiaks defender Harjas Grewal said.
Scott Smith, who suffered a serious concussion during playdowns against Kamloops on June 15 in Prince George, watched his teammates play from the sidelines.
“He had a great presence on the bench,” Eggen said. “You can’t replace a guy like Scott Smith but he’s always positive with the guys, always talking with the guys, he participated in everything that we did.”
The Kodiaks added Kelowna striker Juliano Aguiar as an injury replacement for Smith. The Prince George squad also suffered two critical injuries in Thursday’s game against Richmond. Scott Warkentin hyper-extended his knee while Michael Norgren had a leg injury. Both players were out of the lineup the rest of the weekend.
Eggen hopes the A Cup tournament serves as a stepping stone towards more high calibre competition for Prince George Youth Soccer Association squads.
“Hopefully we’ve turned a couple of heads here and teams realize that there is great competition up here in Prince George, and we can get some more games.”