THE West Vancouver Highlanders senior boys soccer team has surprised at least one person with their undefeated start to the North Shore AAA season: their coach.
With only four returning players from a team that finished fourth in the league last year, head coach Stewart Baker was expecting some growing pains this year.
"We have a young team," he said. "My hope was that we would build for this year and next year was the year we'd really go for it."
His boys, however, apparently didn't feel like waiting. The team has taken 11 out of a possible 12 points through their first four games, the only blemish coming in a shootout win over Sutherland. They beat perennial powerhouses Handsworth and Argyle to start the season, shutting out both teams, and on Thursday night dropped Carson Graham 5-3.
"It's completely unexpected," said Baker. "The boys are willing to work hard and train hard and they're happy with the roles each of them play. It's a great atmosphere."
Baker was quick to add that the league is full of talent and just because the Highlanders have had a fast start doesn't guarantee smooth sailing the rest of the way.
"I think the second half of the season will be really tight, all the teams in the league seem like they can beat each other," he said. "The fact that (we're) 4-0, we don't take that as like, we're going to win the league automatically. Those games could easily turn the other way."
Baker, in fact, hopes that the team, heavy on Grade 11 players, still has a lot of room to grow.
"My thing to the team every year has been don't worry about league position, make playoffs, build as the season goes and you should be at your strongest the day those playoffs start," he said. "If you can give an honest effort and you've got your team ready for that playoff push, anything can happen."
The Highlanders will be tested again when they meet Handsworth for a second time this Thursday, starting at 3: 30 p.m. at Ambleside D. The week's other AAA game will see Argyle traveling down Lynn Valley Road to visit Sutherland on Thursday at 4 p.m.