The Aldergrove Totems' first taste of provincial-level soccer turned out to be sweet at the very end.
The Totems finished with a win, three losses, and a tie at the B.C. Double A boys soccer championships, held at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.
The Aldergrove senior boys won their final game of the tournament and walked away with the Fair Play Award.
SENTINEL 4, TOTEMS 2
During the opening day of competition last Monday, the Totems lost by two to Sentinel of Vancouver.
It was tough for the Totems to get into a groove physically and mentally, after they arrived to the pitch five minutes before kickoff due to some scheduling mixups.
To their credit they never quit, even when they went down 4-0 at one point.
"Very proud of how they responded and battled back to make it 4-2 and I think if there was more time they could have equaled their opposition," Totems' coach Brian Hunter said.
Totems 1, LV Rogers 1 Game 2 of the tournament looked like it would be a win for the Totems, who took a 1-0 lead in the first five minutes after capitalizing on a defensive miscue by the LV Rogers' goalkeeper.
The Aldergrove boys showed composure in a very physical match but as the game was closing out, injuries started to take their toll, and the Nelson players kept attacking and were finally rewarded for their efforts by tying the game with about seven minutes to go.
"A bit of heartbreak for the moment but as the team has done all season they were very positive with one another and looked to regroup," Hunter said.
OKANAGAN MISSION 1, TOTEMS 0
On the second day of competition, the Totems played one of their best games of the tournament, losing a squeaker to the eventual provincial champions, Okanagan Mission.
The Totems came very close to tying the score on two successive plays late in the match, only to be stymied by some great goalkeeping.
The loss placed the Totems in a tie for third place with LV Rogers, the team they had tied the previous day 1-1. In an interesting ruling, the teams were considered tied even though Aldergrove had a superior goals difference, having allowed fewer goals and scored more markers than their competitors from Nelson.
So the local boys were dragged out of the showers and up onto the playing pitch to compete in a shootout to determine which team would be placed third and what squad would end up fourth in the group standings.
The Totems lost 5-4 on shots as the LV Rogers 'keeper made a save on the fifth attempt.
Carihi High 1, Totems 0 Aldergrove's fourth game of the tourney was against Carihi High from Campbell River. Once again, the Totems played very well, but the ball was not going in the net.
Posts, crossbars and some timely goaltending provided the difference as Carihi High Tyees notched the only tally of the game to win.
TOTEMS 4, DP TODD 0
The final day of the tournament pitted Aldergrove against DP Todd from Prince George.
The Totems opened with a very fast pace and caught the northerners off guard with a quick attack that resulted in a goal for the local squad.
The game settled in with the teams exchanging attacking forays only to be shut down by good defending.
Then, Aldergrove started to take the flow of the game but it looked like it was going to be deja vu with the scoring problems.
In one five-minute segment, the Totems hit two goal posts and a crossbar, and the DP Todd 'keeper made a great diving save.
Not letting up the pressure, the Totems were finally rewarded with three unanswered goals to eventually take the game 4-0.
At tournament's end, the Totems recognized players they felt deserved recognition for their efforts throughout the season. In a players vote, the five players honoured by their peers were Joel Waterman, Wes Lockhart, Victor Andrade, Adam Schonewille, and Brad Wightman.
Gurmaan Jhaj was given the Commissioners Sixteen Award, which was handed out to each participating team's tournament MVP.
The rest of the Totems consisted of Gurshaan Jhaj, Tanner Cummisky, Josh Power, Pietro Romegoli, Darrien Kristensen, Jonah Miller, Jaskran Brar, Alex Snowdon, Will Sitter, Ryota Shiono, and Kyle Brewer.
Hunter said special thanks go to the players' families who braved the weather and traffic over the new bridge to support the team in this competition as well as the season, the school administration and staff for their great support of the team, and, he added, "the community soccer coaches who spend countless hours volunteering to develop such fine young people on and off the field."
"The players were fantastic ambassadors for the school and community, and were honoured at the closing ceremonies by being presented the Fair Play Award, selected through the panel of referees, opposing coaches, and tournament executives," Hunter said.