The Provincial Cup will remain on the southern shores of the Fraser River for the foreseeable future.
Defending champion ICST Pegasus was knocked out in the opening round of cup play, but local rivals Surrey United Firefighters and Delta United have happily stepped into the void and will play each other for British Columbia men's club soccer bragging rights on May 12.
The Delta Hurricanes shook off two years of semifinal frustration with a 1-0 win over the Metro Ford Wolves in Coquitlam Sunday to punch their ticket to the Provincial Cup final.
In 2011, Delta United lost in the Provincial Cup semifinal to Pegasus while the Punjab Hurricanes lost in the Imperial Cup semifinals to Surrey United. Delta and Punjab merged in the summer but the luck did not change for the resulting Delta Hurricanes as the team lost to Surrey once again in the Pacific Cup semifinals in December.
"For us making it to the final is huge," said Delta manager Billy Dhaliwal. "We've come so close in the last couple of years and to finally get to a final is a big step. It's a reward for the guys who stayed patient and bought into the structure we've established here.
"Against Metro Ford we had some great scoring chances but the score was still 0-0 at the half. Instead of getting frustrated about not scoring, the guys were determined to keep working and to win the second half. We're not afraid to be in 1-0 games anymore and I don't think I could say the same thing one year ago."
The Hurricanes weathered an early storm in Coquitlam Sunday before pushing back and taking over the play for the remainder of the opening half. Forward Cam Hundal was particularly dangerous with numerous forays deep into Wolves territory.
When play resumed after the break, Delta continued to press offensively and their efforts were finally rewarded in the 65th minute. Hundal broke loose for a 25-metre run before deftly threading the ball through the legs of the Metro Ford goalkeeper to put the Hurricanes up 1-0.
"Cam was all over the park," Dhaliwal said. "He is so fit and even in the 90th minute he was running sideline to sideline like it was still the very first minute. His work ethic matches his talent, which is a very dangerous combo for opponents to deal with."
Delta's defence took over from there and despite a late offensive surge by the Wolves, the Hurricanes and goalkeeper Drew Smiley kept the sheet clean to preserve the win.
Dhaliwal singled out Gary Badesha, Ryan Dhillon, Gagan Josan and Woody Bradford for their strong play against Metro Ford.
Meanwhile in the other Provincial Cup semifinal, Surrey United Firefighters did their part to set up a Surrey-North Delta derby in the final with a 1-0 win over PoCo FC in Port Coquitlam Saturday.
The Fraser Valley Soccer League premier champs were the top seed in the provincial draw but still had to prove they could compete against the top sides in the Vancouver Metro Soccer League. PoCo played well against Surrey Saturday but the Firefighters' experience turned out to be a major factor in the outcome.
"That team wanted to accomplish big things this year," Surrey coach Niall Thompson said of PoCo. "They did extremely well in the Fraser Valley and they wanted to go up against teams in the Vancouver Premier League and show them they are just as good. I think they are definitely a strong team that could compete in the VMSL.
"They have some experience and some good players but, aside from the start of the second half where they created some chances off our defensive lapses, we contained them well. Overall on the day though, we were the better team and we deserved to win that game."
Surrey patiently fended off the PoCo attacking scheme but had to wait 80 minutes before being rewarded for their steady play. With 10 minutes remaining, Angus Burke laid a pass into the PoCo box where former Whitecap Jeff Clarke was waiting to bang the ball home for the game's decisive goal.
Thompson said goalkeeper Paul Shepherd was stellar guarding the Surrey net with some help from teammates Colin Streckmann, Brad Peetoom and Steve McCauley.
Surrey and Delta will meet in the Provincial Cup final on May 12 at the Burnaby Lake field complex.
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