Depth, skill drive Hyacks' high hopes

Team looks to build on last year's appearance at the provincials

Talent and heart are big parts to why the New Westminster Hyacks are targeting a return trip to the B.C. senior girls 3-A soccer championships this spring.

If anything, this skilled group of players is eager to show that last year’s run wasn’t a fluke.

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New West is off to a great start, having launched the regular season Tuesday with an 8-4 doubling of the Burnaby North Vikings.

Led by a pair of hat tricks off the feet of Grade 11 Christine Singh and Grade 9 Sophie Crowther, the Hyacks demonstrated a knack for creating offence.

“This will sound cliché, but the one word that best describes us is ‘united,’” coach Wayne McCarthy said. “It is an all for one and one for all approach.  This is a close knit group who work for each other.  It’s a really great team to be part of.”

A banner last year and a trip to the B.C.s – for the first time in 19 years – was a feel-good story for the reborn squad. Not taking anything for granted, the team most definitely would like to improve on last season’s 15th-place finish.

And what provides the spark for such expectations is a work ethic that has been highlighted in strong results at a major pre-season tournament.

“As soon as our season ended, the players said they’d do all they could to make it back to provincials and to improve upon last year’s final ranking,” said McCarthy. “They know what they’re up against now and are committed to a team game.”

Take Tuesday’s win. Although Burnaby North proved pesky and refused to surrender, the Hyacks generated a volley of scoring chances, taking its first lead just 22 seconds into the game on Crowther’s conversion of a Taylor Spong pass. Burnaby North’s Michaela Filippelli tied it just three minutes later, firing the ball above Hyack goalkeeper Lucia Fernanda.

Spong finished a nice feed from Lara Borgford to make it 2-1, and Singh cashed in her first of three before the game was 20 minutes old.

Singh would make it 4-1 a minute later with her second straight marker, but the Vikings replied to get within two. But before the half, Crowther would drive through the middle to make it a three-goal lead.

In the second half, Burnaby North made a persistent push pay off to cut the deficit to a pair, but New West standout Nisa Reehal lead a foray through the Viking backline and scored from just inside the box to make it 6-3.

The two teams would trade goals once more, with both Singh and Crowther completing their three-goal games, with Sonia Sarai drawing a key assist on the latter tally.

Earlier, the Royal City crew crossed paths with some of the province’s highest ranked teams at the UBC Invitational tourney, blanking B.C. rival Kitsilano 3-0 before bowing 2-0 to No. 2-ranked, and last year’s finalist, Fleetwood Park. The game against the Dragons tipped to the Surrey team’s favour with but a handful of minutes left, breaking up a scoreless tie.

They also edged Shawnigan Lake 1-0.

This year’s leadership brigade is deep, beginning with UBC-bound Reehal, Spong, who was part of the North American Indigenous Games’ 2017 champions, and Bishop’s University committed Emma Hughes. Part of the enthusiasm also comes from young recruits like Crowther and Monika Arcadi.

“This is an accepting and inclusive group.  Our grads are very supportive of our juniors and do their best to make it a welcoming environment without little cliques,” added McCarthy. “Everyone selected brings a strong skill set to the team, whether they're a senior or a junior.”

New West’s next game is Tuesday against Burnaby Mountain.

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