The road to the Colonist Cup senior boys city soccer championship begins today with quarter-finals and all eyes are on two-time defending champion St. Michaels University School.
The Blue Jags draw newcomer Royal Bay today at SMUS, while 2014 runner-up and current No. 1-seed Oak Bay entertains No. 8 Mount Douglas at Carnarvon, No. 3 Reynolds welcomes No. 6 St. Andrews at Braefoot and No. 7 Claremont ventures to No. 2 Glenlyon Norfolk School.
All games begin at 3 p.m. with winners advancing to semifinals on Tuesday at UVic, also at 3 p.m. The championship game is a week from tonight at 8 at Centennial Stadium.
SMUS claimed the double-A Island title on Tuesday in a 2-1 win over Kwalikum and hopes that momentum carries them into the defence of their back-to-back Colonist Cup crowns.
“The guys will have Wednesday off, a well deserved day off and we’ll come back [today],” said SMUS Blue Jags coach Alex Redpath, whose team is seeded No. 4. “We lost to Royal Bay [No. 5] in league play [3-2] so we want to come back and get a win. We weren’t happy with that performance, but I think after this Islands win their spirits will be high.”
The Blue Jags turned over most of the provincial championship team from last season.
“Last year we ran the three-peat with soccer, basketball and rugby and everyone is thinking, ‘Well, all the seniors have gone now,’ so it would be good to come out here and surprise everyone,” said Jamison Schulz-Franco, who had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jags in Tuesday’s Island final.
He played junior last year and did not get a taste of the titles.
Oak Bay is also entering the Colonist Cup tournament on a high. The Bays are coming off a triple-A Island championship thanks to a 3-0 win over Reynolds on Tuesday.
“We’ve been a little unfortunate the last few years with tough losses,” said Oak Bay coach Richard Fast, whose Bays lost 2-0 to SMUS last year. “It’s a very competitive tournament and a very prestigious tournament and one we’re definitely wanting to win.”
The GNS Gryphons have also had their share of success at the Colonist Cup, qualifying for four of five finals when they lost a heart-breaker 3-2 to SMUS in 2013, up 2-0 at the half.
The Gryphons, who were 4-1-1 in league play — behind leaders Oak Bay at a perfect 6-0 — edged Claremont 3-2 in league play.
“We played them the once and it was a close game. I’m hoping our guys are rested up after provincials,” said GNS coach Justin Parish, whose club played five games over the three days in winning the single-A championship Saturday in Kamloops.
“I’d be disappointed if we didn’t get a positive result on Thursday.”
Reynolds finished third in league play at 3-2-1, the tie coming against GNS. SMUS was 3-3; Royal Bay 2-3-1; St. Andrews 1-4-1; and Claremont winless in six games, but with four one-goal losses. Mount Douglas moves up from Tier II with a 5-0-2 record to face Oak Bay, which outscored its opposition 24-3 in six outings, making the Bays the clear-cut favourite.
As Bays captain and centre midfielder Jack Hill so elegantly put it earlier this year: “I just want to win the Colonist Cup. We lost that one to SMUS last year and that pissed me off a bit. I just want to win that so badly and hope for a long season with a lot of wins.”
Oak Bay’s form has held true, so far.