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U-18 Storm experience loss and triumph in fifth place finish – and in their final tournament together

The end: Coast boys Storm provincials
The U-18 Storm play their final tournament: Back row: Coach Martin Blackwell; Sasha Kliewer; Brody Ewen; Henry Rose; Soheil Morin; Samuel Uwa; Declan Miller; Taiyo Blackwell; Krystof Krutsky; Coach Mike Cowie. Front row: Anouar Jacobs; Ryder Seabrook; Marshall “The Beard” Curtiss; Coen Marshall; Duncan Service; Kaishan Nonacowie; Owen Bichler.

The SCYSA U-18 Storm boys did themselves proud at provincials this past weekend out in Langley, playing four games in four days and winning two, tying one and only losing one game by just one goal. They came one goal and one controversial call by the ref away from playing in the Provincial Championship Game.

In their first game of the tournament, on Thursday evening, the boys came out of the gates on fire and blew out the Northern BC Champions, BV United, by a score of 11-1. As you can imagine, it was the biggest win by any team at the tournament. That game featured a hattrick from Taiyo Blackwell, and two goals each from Kaishan Nonacowie, Declan Miller and Samuel Uwa, while Krystof Krutsky and Sasha Kiewer added one each.

The second game, on Friday in the intense mid-day Langley heat, was a much tougher challenge when the boys came up against the Thompson-Okanagan Champions, Shuswap FC, out of Salmon Arm. After an incredibly hard-fought game featuring numerous chances for both teams, the Storm came away with a 2-2 draw. After giving up a very early goal, the Storm boys battled back to tie it up after 20 minutes on a fantastic goal by Kaishan, set up by a beautiful pass from Soheil Morin. That was followed two minutes later by a goal by Brody Ewen, which was the best volleyed goal anyone involved with this Storm team has ever seen in this division. It was spectacular. Unfortunately, after losing two guys to injury, the Storm couldn’t hold onto the lead in the second half, but they did come out of the game with a 2-2 draw.

Due to their superior goal differential, the Sunshine Coast boys only needed a draw in their third and final round robin game on Saturday to advance to the Provincial Championship Game on Sunday. So, the boys took the field Saturday evening vs the VAFC Titans knowing what they had to do. However, the Titans also wanted that spot in the big game and they came out hard and went up 1-0 after 25 minutes when they scored after a scramble in the box. The Storm soon responded with a blistering free-kick goal from 30 yards out by Coen Marshall to tie it up. But then the Titans scored again before the half was over to make it 2-1 at halftime. The Storm boys battled hard throughout the second half and created chances, the best of which was when Samuel broke in on net and was about to score from six yards out, when he was blatantly pushed down from behind to earn what should have been a stone-cold penalty. But the ref, shockingly, called it a “dive,” something that Samuel has never done in his life.

So, after having been robbed of their chance to play in the Championship Game by that one tough call by the ref the previous evening, the boys took the field on Sunday afternoon in the fifth place game vs their old rivals, the North Van Fury, wanting to finish their final game ever together with a victory. And they did just that, but it wasn’t easy. It was a back-and-forth battle, with both teams hitting the post and forcing great saves from the opposing keeper. Storm star keeper, Duncan Service, made yet another spectacular save to keep the Storm in the game early on, something he’s been doing for years now.

With just 10 minutes remaining, it was still tied at 0-0, which is when the boys, in the final moments of their Storm careers, decided to turn it up to 11 and take over the game. Taiyo scored two great goals just seven minutes apart. The first one was set up by a beautiful cross from Sasha, which Taiyo headed in brilliantly, while the second was a replica of a goal the team has seem many times before, with Kaishan tearing down the wing, beating his man with speed, cutting along the goal line and then cutting the ball back to the onrushing Taiyo, who put it away. It’s the Storm classic!
It was beautiful, it was 2-0, and it was over, with the Storm finishing on an absolute high with one last victory and one last clean sheet after one last thriller of a game against an old rival.

It may not have been the championship game, but with just one controversial loss by one goal in the four games, the boys could hold their heads high knowing they played their hearts out and did their fans proud in their final four games playing together... ever.

Coaches Martin Blackwell and Mike Cowie, who have been on this journey with the boys for so many years now, were so proud of the whole team for their heart, hustle, skill, team play, and sportsmanship. Both coaches agree, these Storm boys were a joy to coach, as well as to watch out on the field. And, more importantly, they’re all great young men.

Finally, both the coaches and players want to say a huge thank you to all the Sunshine Coast soccer fans who made their way out to Langley to cheer the boys on over the four days of the tournament. It was so great having so much fan support so far away from home.