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High-flying Royal Bay Ravens eye B.C. soccer title

The Royal Bay Ravens might be fairly new but they are more than fairly good.
ClaremontÕs Daniel Damian, right, tries to get away from Royal BayÕs Zack Sidhn during Lower Island Senior Boys Soccer League action at Lochside Park on Tuesday.

The Royal Bay Ravens might be fairly new but they are more than fairly good.

Royal Bay Secondary, which opened in 2015 in Colwood, won its first Lower Island boys’ Triple-A regular-season soccer championship Tuesday with a scoreless draw against the Claremont Spartans at Lochside Park.

Schools are vibrant and creative entities and can get known beyond academics in areas such as sports, theatre, arts and music.

Royal Bay has recorded some successes in the gym and on the fields of play in its modest five-season history in high school sports.

That includes the boys’ soccer team, which is following up its Island second-place standing from last year, with an undefeated run through the Lower Island regular season this season with three wins and three ties for the crown.

“Sport is part of the spirit and culture of Royal Bay,” said Ravens assistant coach Kay Otani.

There is a soccer academy at the school, in which professional players from Pacific FC of the Canadian Premier League, have instructed at this year.

“This is a first championship for the school in boys’ soccer and it’s been great being able to play at the level of the previous powers such as Oak Bay and Reynolds,” said Ravens assistant coach Kevin Parsons, son of 24-time Canada-capped former Vancouver Whitecaps pro Buzz Parsons.

Captain Dylan Larratt anchors the staunch Royal Bay backline.

“We’re working together as a whole,” said Larratt.

“We fight for each other and defend well. We hold off pressure.”

The Ravens recorded the upset of the 2018 season when they knocked off the powerhouse Reynolds Roadrunners in the semifinals of the Island Triple-A championship before losing 1-0 in the final to Oak Bay. That earned the Island’s second and final berth into the B.C. championship tournament with the final 13th-place standing leaving a sour taste needing to be washed away for the returning Ravens.

“We were in a tough group last year at provincials, and having that experience, are hungry to finish much higher this year,” said Larratt.

But there is a lot of soccer to play before that.

The Island championships are Nov. 6-7 at Oak Bay for Triple A and Nov. 4-5 at St. Michaels University School for Double A.

The FA Cup-styled Colonist Cup Lower Island high school tournament, open to the top finishers in Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A, begins with the quarter-finals Oct. 31 and continue through to the semifinals Nov. 12 and final Nov. 14 at Centennial Stadium on the University of Victoria campus.

It’s anybody’s game. The Claremont Spartans had to wear the green pinnies Tuesday against the Ravens, because the two teams’ dark jersey colours collided, but nobody has been able to pin a loss on the Spartans this season. Claremont also finished undefeated with the Ravens in the Triple-A Lower Island regular-season standings, but placed one point behind with two wins and four ties.

Throw in annual contenders Reynolds and Oak Bay, also in the hunt, and it looks to be bracket-buster heaven for the post-season rounds.

“It’s very competitive and a grind to get points this year,” said Spartans head coach Rachel Yager.

“Every game has been close and competitive.”

She said, as usual, there are prospective future U Sports and NCAA athletes for several sports to be found on the pitch playing soccer.

“We have all-round good athletes with great heart and great skill,” said Yager. “They battle.”

Which seems to be the order of the day this high school soccer season.