This ball was round, not oblong.
The Oak Bay-versus-St. Michaels University School rivalry in sports is usually expressed through the Howard Russell Cup rugby final, out of which have come several Canadian World Cup players from both teams.
But on a very cold Wednesday evening at Centennial Stadium, the schools met for the Colonist Cup, emblematic of Lower Island high school soccer supremacy.
SMUS prevailed 2-0 to win its second consecutive Colonist Cup as supporters of both teams huddled in the grandstand for warmth. But it was the Blue Jags fans feeling the most cheery as they stormed the field to mob the SMUS players at the final whistle.
The first half was scoreless with SMUS having the edge in chances. Both sides had point-blank chances in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Max Pollen finally broke through and crashed the net at 56 minutes, barging the ball into the net off his chest to give SMUS the lead on a strange and scrambly play.
Oak Bay pressed hard for the equalizer, which never came despite some close calls. The Bays hopes all but faded when they were reduced to 10 players because of a red card issued with four minutes remaining. Brian Im took advantage with the insurance goal for SMUS at 88 minutes.
Oak Bay is the Island Triple-A champion and SMUS the Island Double-A champs, with both sides preparing for their respective B.C. championships next weekend.
“We’ve done the triple so far and have won the Islands, Colonist Cup and the private schools provincials and are going for the B.C. [Double-A] championship now,” said Im, a dangerous forward who has verbally committed to an NCAA school in the U.S., but can’t yet confirm which one.
“It’s the second year in a row for the Colonist Cup and it feels awesome.”
It was the second meeting in 2014 between the Bays and Blue Jags, with the first ending in a 4-4 regular-season draw.
“It felt a lot harder to [repeat] than win the Cup last year,” said Pollen, a triple-sport SMUS threat, who also plays basketball and rugby, and is headed next year to UVic.
“But we have a lot of depth on this team and pulled it out.”
Those who performed in this annual tradition this year joined a great pantheon. Those who have played in Colonist Cup or its playdowns have included World Cup players George Pakos of Esquimalt and Ian Bridge of Vic High and other highly-capped former Canadian internationals such as Bob Bolitho from Mount View and Brian Robinson from Vic High.