The Springbank Soccer Club (SSC) has a shiny new addition to its trophy cabinet, after the U13 Tier 1 boys’ team won the club’s first-ever Tier 1 provincial championship.
The team wrapped up the 2019 outdoor season by winning the tournament in St. Albert Aug. 23 to 25. The squad overcame the St. Albert Impact 1-0 in the gold-medal game.
“Our whole team tried really hard and we never gave up,” said 12-year-old Maria Georgacacos, the sole girl on the team. “We played smart; we didn’t try to do fancy things.”
Springbank qualified for provincials by ending the regular season in first place of the Calgary Minor Soccer Association’s (CMSA) Tier 1 division, with a 7-1-1 record. The team scored just 24 goals, but boasted the toughest defence in the league, conceding just nine goals – four fewer than any other team.
According to head coach Chris Rappel, the impressive defensive record was a result of the team’s focus on holding onto possession.
“We don’t give up the ball a lot,” he said. “Our motto is to keep the ball, and if we have it, the other team is not going to be able to score. We certainly have a good defence [as well], and we work hard to limit the other team’s opportunities.”
In St. Albert, Springbank showed its defensive strength with back-to-back clean sheets in its opening two fixtures. The team kicked off its provincial run with a 2-0 victory over the Edmonton Warriors, with goals coming from Anson Minty and Adam Mekarnia.
The following day, Ziyad Eltrabily scored a hat trick and Victor Rivas chipped in to record a 4-0 victory over one of Calgary’s other two provincial representatives – the Villains.
“[Eltrabily] played a lot of minutes for us and created a lot of opportunities to score,” Rappel said. “He’s a clever player, has excellent footwork and a good shot. He scored one on a free kick, where he bent it around the wall into the corner.”
Having won its opening two games, Rappel said, the team knew ahead of the third round-robin game – against the St. Albert Impact – that the result didn’t matter, as Springbank had already qualified for the final. He said that afforded the team the luxury of resting some key players and fielding the four 2007-born players who had been called up from the younger team.
SSC took a 2-1 lead, but the Impact rallied back to win 3-2 with a pair of late goals.
Both of Springbank’s strikes came from Minty.
“He’s super quick, so we get opportunities where we play a ball in behind the defence that he can run onto,” Rappel said. “That enables him to create chances, so he’s had some success that way this season. [One of the goals] he actually got was a header off of a corner, which was a really nice play – it was one of the set pieces we worked on.”
SSC’s opponent in the gold-medal game was another side from the St. Albert Impact.
It was a tight battle that was ultimately decided in the first half, when Eltrabily scored his fourth goal of the tournament, sneaking behind the Impact’s back line and slotting the ball past the St. Albert keeper.
“A lot of kids in those opportunities, you think they’re going to score but you watch the games and they put the ball over the bar or wide, but [Eltrabily] is very accurate with his shots,” Rappel said. “He does a nice job of hitting the goal and giving himself a chance to score.”
The back-line managed to hold off the Impact for the rest of the game to record its third clean sheet of the tournament and secure SSC’s first provincial championship.
“I was very happy for the players – they worked hard all season and had a great regular season playing in CMSA,” Rappel said.
“It’s satisfying as a coach to see them succeed, but the kids’ reaction was all the pleasure I needed.”