Whether people think the Colonist Cup soccer championship, Howard Russell Cup rugby final or Island boys triple-A basketball championship represent the most significant annual high school event largely depends on their sporting backgrounds and interests.
There is certainly no denying the historical pedigree of the Colonist Cup final the 2012 version of which goes today between Lambrick Park and
St. Andrews at 5:30 p.m. at UVics Centennial Stadium.
Those who have played in Colonist Cup playdowns have included World Cup players George Pakos of Esquimalt and Ian Bridge of Vic High and other top former Team Canada internationals such as Bob Bolitho from Mount View and Brian Robinson from Vic High.
But while they mainly came from what were the Island soccer factories of their time, recent years have seen the rise of the small schools such as Glenlyon Norfolk. Falling into that category is St. Andrews, which edged Glenlyon Norfolk 2-1 in the 2012 Colonist Cup semifinals. Today is the Sabres third Cup final after losses in 2006 and 2007 to St. Michaels and Stellys.
Weve had some great players come and go and its taken a few years to get to this point, said St. Andrews head coach Mark Cristante.
We like to play physical soccer and challenge balls in the air. We tackle and win the ball. We can switch on the fly, depending on what the other teams throw at us.
Coming out of Powell River having watched the glory days of former Island Division 1 power Villa, Cristante learned his own soccer well. He played for the University of Victoria Vikes from 2001 to 2004, winning the CIS title with the Vikes in 2004, and went on to win six Island Division 1 titles, six Jackson Cups and two B.C. championships with the Gorge FC dynasty.
Cristante said you learn a few things along the way when you play under coaches such as Canadas 1986 World Cup captain and veteran UVic mentor Bruce Wilson.
I learned a lot about the game from Bruce, said Cristante, in his sixth year of teaching social studies and P.E. at St. Andrews.
Cristante has led his Sabres side to a 15-2 record with both of those losses coming against Glenlyon Norfolk, including a 3-1 defeat over the weekend in the B.C. single-A championship game. But the salve was that Colonist Cup semifinal victory over their great foes from Glenlyon Norfolk that propelled
St. Andrews into todays Colonist Cup final.
Lambrick Park comes into todays Cup final as the defending champion following last years 1-0 overtime victory over Glenlyon Norfolk.
The Lions defeated the Claremont Spartans 4-3 in the semifinals and are buoyed by a core group from last years Cup championship team and also four Brazilian exchange students who hail from a nation that needs no introduction when it comes to soccer.
Were a phenomenal passing team, said Lambrick Park head coach Heather Weir, a Gorge Masters player who teaches social studies and history at her school.
Were magic in space and its beautiful to watch. Weve had a good year.
This is the first meeting of the year between the Lions and Sabres and it will decide the 2012 winner of a venerated old Cup that has more than seen its share of notable champions over the years.
CORNER KICKS: The Esquimalt Dockers are the 2012 Colonist Shield champions after beating SMUS B in the Shield final.
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