Top-ranked Bays keep Ravens grounded in high-school soccer

The battle of the bays took on a spectacular setting as Oak Bay ventured to Royal Bay to break in the school’s new artificial turf pitch high atop Colwood on a sunny Tuesday afternoon.

There couldn’t be a more scenic setup as the Lower Island senior boys high school season kicked off with the defending triple-A Island champion Bays handing the host Ravens a 3-0 setback, declaring they will be a team to watch on the Island again this season.

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“The guys played well. Everyone played, all 21, so everyone had a chance to contribute,” said Oak Bay co-coach Richard Fast. “We haven’t trained a lot so this is really our first opportunity to see us in a game setting.”

There was plenty to see as Jack Hill opened the scoring in the 15th minute after several opportunities had been squandered. Five minutes later Eli Cuthbert headed home Nick Hurley’s corner for a 2-0 first half lead.

Ravens goalkeeper Vini Barbaros did well to keep the Bays to just the two. Matti Grant finished off another Hurley corner to end the scoring in the waning minutes.

“We have a strong group of players,” said Fast. “Eli Cuthbert, who came over from the Whitecaps residency, has really helped us and Jack Hill, our captain who is playing men’s Division I with me at Bays United, is a superstar in my books.

“If we build the team through those guys with Matti Grant at the back and strong goalkeeping I think we’ll be in good shape.”

Even without Charlie Miller and Andre Earthy-Find, who joined the Vancouver Whitecaps U-18 residency this summer, along with Claremont’s Liam McManaman.

Hill, a 17-year-old in Grade 12, has a goal in mind for the Bays.

“I just want to win the Colonist Cup. We lost that one to SMUS last year and that pissed me off a bit,” the centre midfielder said.

“I just want to win that so badly and hope for a long season with a lot of wins. It was a good start to the season and hopefully we can continue it.”

As for the Ravens, they had their chances, none better than Tristan Austin’s through ball to Matt Alcadinho, who’s shot went high in the opening five minutes. Peter Jones also laid a beautiful pass onto Austin’s feet in the 25th minute, but that failed to materialize as well.

“We had chances. I think we showed some of our weaknesses today that we can work on, but some of our strengths and that was positive to see,” said Ravens coach Moira Hood.

“That’s most likely some of the best competition we’ll have in the league so it’s good and bad to start the season like that. It’s good to know what kind of competition we’ll be up against.”

The Ravens will easily lead the Lower Island Tier I league in views, however.

“It’s unbelievable. I can only hope that Oak Bay’s turf will be like this, but I don’t think we’ll have the water views,” Fast said with chuckle. “A pretty amazing facility.”

The two teams are joined in Tier I by St. Andrews, St. Michaels University School A, Claremont, Reynolds and Glenlyon Norfolk School. Esquimalt, Spectrum, Stelly’s, Vic High, Lambrick Park, SMUS B, Parkland and Mount Douglas form Tier II.

The Colonist Cup is set for Nov. 19 with Island finals still to be determined in the North for triple-A and South for double-A. Duncan Christian will host single-A Islands on Oct. 21. Provincials are slated for Nov. 26-28 at Burnaby Lake in triple-A and double-A and Nov. 5-7 in Kamloops for single-A.

mannicchiarico@timescolonist.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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