The Valley Choppers men’s soccer team got an early Christmas present, December 12, when their opponents turned up short-handed. Alta Pacific Mortgages has had the Choppers’ number for the last few seasons in the Chilliwack Men’s Soccer League but they dug themselves a hole by having to start the game four players short and only gaining two more as the game went on.
The Valley Helicopters-sponsored Choppers have had the upper hand in numbers four other times in recent years — yet failed to get more than a tie. A win is not a sure thing in such situations, if the short-handed team can form a good defensive shell and wait for a chance to counter-attack.
This time, though, the Choppers were determined to put the heat on their opponents early and wear them down with a better possession game.
Brenden Gillespie got the Chopper’s first goal 10 minutes in, taking on three defenders and slipping a shot against the grain before getting wiped out.
Karl Price doubled the lead with a blast shortly after, then mishandled a hot pass for a lucky third goal of the year. Price, who graduated from Hope Secondary in 2013, signed with the Choppers in November.
Team captain, Zane MacDonald made a key recruit over the summer, getting fellow forest-fire-fighter Brian Davis to join the team. Davis has played elite-level ball, including at UFV and his skills have given the Choppers a big boost. Defenders need to pay plenty of attention to Davis, freeing up other Choppers for Davis to feed his passes to.
It was Davis making the set-ups in the first frame, then he scored to put the Choppers up 4-0 early in the second half.
Alta weren’t going to fold, though, and they came back with two goals of their own, momentarily raising the tension.
Choppers midfielder Andrew Tarrant made it 5-2 when he connected on a solid shot that gave the Alta keeper no chance.
“The ball was passed across the field from the left to Yvon McKay, who let the ball come to me,” said Tarrant, a pastor in Hope. “I hit it first-time from the edge of the box. I wouldn’t normally be so aggressive but I’ve been trying to be more confident in my play lately and so just took a hopeful shot and it worked. It went in the bottom left corner, which probably made me look much better than I am.”
Davis was set up by McKay for the Choppers’ sixth goal of the game —his sixth of the season — a volleyed blast that looked like it could have put a hole in the mesh.
The 6-2 win was the Choppers’ most decisive in a number of years, in a very competitive league. This season, they’ve had an excellent first half against most of the league’s best teams, before losing steam in the closing stages. Recent additions of skilled players should give them more success in the new year.
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When rain, snow or dark of night puts a stop to the outdoor game, you can always bring it indoors.
Following the success of their fall co-ed basketball league, Recreation, Culture and Airpark Services is offering a co-ed indoor soccer league for ages 16 and up.
Assistant manager, Amanda Arbuckle says the league will run on Tuesday evenings at Silver Creek School, starting January 12. It will be 4-on-4, with a requirement that at least one female be on the floor for each team throughout the game.
If a team is short on females in that game, “in the interest of good sportsmanship, the opposing team may lend players to the team that is short so that they can field a lineup and play a game,” says Arbuckle.
“A team or individual can register and once all registrations are received, staff will work with the teams in attempts to provide balance.”
As with the basketball league, the soccer league would be self-officiating, though staff would be supervising.
The goal is to have enough players for four teams, with each team getting one game per week until March 1 — but it’s subject to registration numbers. Cost is $20 and you can sign up at the rec centre’s reception desk until January 8.