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Blue Jags bag another Island AA boys soccer title

The St. Michaels University School Blue Jags survived the dreaded 2-0 lead, defeating the Kwalikum Kondors 2-1 in the final of the Island double-A senior boys soccer championship on a cool, windy UVic turf pitch on Tuesday.
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Ben Wingert of St. Michaels University School tries to fend off Kondors defenders Marcus Nishio, left, and Godai Seki during the first half of the Island AA boys soccer final on Tuesday at UVic.

The St. Michaels University School Blue Jags survived the dreaded 2-0 lead, defeating the Kwalikum Kondors 2-1 in the final of the Island double-A senior boys soccer championship on a cool, windy UVic turf pitch on Tuesday.

Jamison Schulz-Franco and Ben Wingert scored goals early in each half and the defence cleared a ball off the goal line on a late Kwalikum corner kick as the Blue Jags outlasted the Kondors.

“It was a big-time win, especially after the 1-0 loss [to Highland Secondary on Monday]. It was great to come back and win this,” said Schulz-Franco, who finished off an excellent cross from Dennis Siegrist in the ninth minute for the 1-0 lead. “It was all him. He set me up right in front of the net.”

Schulz-Franco then sent a left-footed chip toward Kondors’ keeper Nolin Fong’s net in the 46th minute. Fong stabbed the ball out of the air, but Wingert was on the spot for the easy tap-in.

Kwalikum’s Daniel Doukakis got one back when SMUS defender Ben Keep made an error on a back pass to keeper Jasper Bosley and Doukakis easily tucked it into the Blue Jags’ net.

The Blues Jags — last year’s provincial and Colonist Cup champions — were fortunate to get through to the final, courtesy of a 1-1 draw between Highland and Lambrick Park in the morning. A Highland win would have dropped SMUS down.

“It’s a good feeling to win. We had a tough first game when we just couldn’t score that goal. We bounced back the next game and scored five [against Lambrick Park],” said Blue Jags coach Alex Redpath, whose team also downed Gulf Islands 3-1 on Tuesday morning.

“That [Highland] tie against Lambrick allowed us to jump into first,” said Redpath.

“They say that 2-0 lead is the scariest lead in sport. We made that mistake, but as I told the guys, that happens in sport. I’ve done it a number of times. [Bosley] was perfect after that and that’s what you ask for, how they bounce back after that mistake. The team rallied around him and that’s what you want,” added Redpath, a former UVic Vike and Highlander.

Mark Isfeld defeated Highland 2-1 (4-2 on penalty kicks) in the bronze-medal game. All four teams advance to provincials, slated for Nov. 23-25 at Burnaby Lakes.

At the triple-A Islands in Nanaimo, Oak Bay defeated Reynolds 3-0 at Dover Bay as the two South teams captured the available spots for provincials, also slated for Burnaby Lakes on Nov. 26-28.

Eliot Cuthbert had two goals and Keaton Eccleston had the other, while Evan Carr kept the clean sheet in goal.

“It feels good,” said Oak Bay coach Richard Fast, whose team was making its fourth straight appearance at Islands and won its third straight crown. “The boys played well throughout the two days.”

Meanwhile, the Glenlyon Norfolk School Gryphons claimed their seventh straight provincial championship over the weekend, defeating Southridge 5-1 in the single-A championship game over the weekend in Kamloops.

“They played well,” GNS coach Justin Parish said of his club, which now prepares for Colonist Cup quarter-final action on Thursday. “We competed hard in every game and the semifinal was extremely close.”

The Gryphons edged Credo Christian 1-0 in that matchup after posting 2-0 and 3-1 victories over Pemberton and Meadowridge, respectively. GNS had opened with an easy 9-0 win over Queen Charlotte.

Of the seven straight B.C. titles for GNS, six have come at the single-A level with one at double-A.

mannicchiarico@timescolonist.com