SURREY — The lads from Surrey United struck gold in Kamloops over the Thanksgiving weekend, capturing national bragging rights at the Canadian Under-16 club soccer championships.
The Cloverdale boys went undefeated through five games in the tourney, outscoring their opponents 23-1 en route to the gold medal.
"They went in as the favourites and they performed like it as well," said Surrey United technical director Jeff Clarke. "It was an awesome ride and just a great week for them."
The gold medal is the second straight U-16 national title for a Surrey United boys' team, with an entirely new cast of players winning the title this year in Kamloops.
"Our program is geared to player development first and a byproduct of that is the teams seem to do well," Clarke said. "It's not the other way around where winning comes first and player development comes second. It's our philosophy and it creates a nice pipeline of talent coming through Surrey."
Surrey opened the tournament with a convincing 7-0 romp over Newfoundland as Ola Ajibike and Bradley Heffey each netted a pair. After squeaking past Nova Scotia 3-1 on goals by Matteo Bordignon, Cole Basarich and Luke Warkentin, United cranked up the offence once again to blast New Brunswick and P.E.I. by identical 6-0 scores to close out the round robin.
Surrey's 4-0 record launched the Cloverdale lads into the gold medal game where they faced a much stiffer test from Ontario's Vaughan Azzurri. The two sides played to a scoreless draw through regulation and then embarked on two 15-minute sudden death overtime sessions.
Surrey finally settled the matter in the 117th minute - three minutes before a possible shootout - when Liam McIlvenna converted a corner kick by bouncing a shot off a Vaughn defender and into the goal.
Goalkeeper Aman Thind came through with a massive game for Surrey United, making several outstanding saves in regulation and overtime to keep the game scoreless.
Surrey United had two other teams battling for national supremacy as the club's U-14 boys' and girls' teams were both in Lethbridge for the age group championships.
In girls action, Surrey got off to an excellent start as Jaime Saint-Onge and Mackenzie Toop each posted hat tricks in a 6-0 win over P.E.I. Surrey dropped their next game 4-2 to Alberta Napoli and then fell 2-1 on penalty kicks to Nova Scotia.
The Cloverdale girls closed out round-robin play with a 2-1 loss of Alberta Blizzard Ajax but rallied to beat Saskatchewan 6-0 in the game to determine seventh place. Shanya Dhindsa scored twice in the win over Saskatchewan.
At the same venue, the Surrey United U-14 boys posted a 2-1-1 record in round robin play to finish out of the medal hunt.
The B.C. champions blitzed Newfoundland 5-0 in their opener and the battled to a 2-2 draw with Manitoba in their second outing.
Surrey's lone loss of the weekend came 3-2 on penalty kicks to Alberta, but United bounced back and took their frustrations out on Saskatchewan with an 8-0 thrashing to complete pool play.
In the fifth place game, Surrey closed out the tournament with a 5-1 win over Manitoba. Joel Harrison led the way with two goals against Manitoba.
Meanwhile on the far eastern edge of the country, South Surrey's Coastal FC girls fell just short of a medal with a fourth place finish at the U-18 national club championships in St. John's Newfoundland.
Coastal opened with a 1-0 win over Alberta Juventus, thanks to a goal from Danae Derksen.
In their next outing, Surrey topped Ontario's Burlington Bayhawks 2-0 before running their record to 3-0 with a convincing 4-0 win over hosts Mount Pearl SC.
Coastal was then eliminated from championship contention when they dropped a 1-0 decision to the Newfoundland champions in their final round-robin match.
Coastal then finished out of the medals when they Nova Scotia squeaked out a 2-1 win in the bronze medal game. Rachel Sydor scored the goal for Coastal.
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