With a couple of results up on the board there's an interesting early leader in the North Shore senior boys AAA soccer league.
The Sutherland Sabres posted wins over traditional powerhouse teams Argyle and Handsworth last week, jumping up to the top of the standings with a perfect 2-0 record. Those wins came after the Sabres took apart the Carson Graham Eagles 7-0 in an exhibition game before the season started. So is it too soon to call Sutherland the favourites to take the North Shore title and earn a berth in the provincial championships? Yes, yes it is, according to Sutherland head coach Bill Mahon.
"I'm definitely not going to say that," Mahon said with a laugh. "That would be the kiss of death. We'll just see how each game plays out."
The results, however, have been impressive. Sutherland opened with a 2-0 shutout win over Argyle on Tuesday.
"They had a couple of players who were hurt, they didn't have their full squad there," said Mahon of the Pipers. "We deserved the 2-0 win, but they were missing a few key players. Next time we play them, if they're back, it's going to be a tougher game."
Handsworth, last year's North Shore rep at the provincial AAA championships, was next.
"We won 2-1 but we didn't play that well in the second half," said Mahon, adding that the Sabres were up 2-0 in their Thursday evening matchup but let the Royals back in. Handsworth had a chance to tie it with a late breakaway but Sutherland's goalie made the save.
"Handsworth outplayed us in the second half, I thought we were a bit fortunate to win that one."
Mahon did admit that his team looks good so far, but added that it should be a tight race at the top of the standings all season long.
"I think on any given day any of those teams can beat each other," he said. "It's very early, two games. I'm not going to make any predictions where teams are going to end up. I'll just say it's very competitive."
Handsworth opened their season Tuesday with a 2-1 win over West Van in a rematch of last year's final playoff game that saw the Royals earn the provincial berth while eliminating the Highlanders. West Van joined Handsworth with a 1-1 record this week after scoring a 4-1 win over Carson Graham Thursday.
The action continues this week with AAA games Tuesday and Thursday. There are a pair of 4 p.m. games on Tuesday with Carson Graham hosting Handsworth at Kinsman Field (Carson turf is the rainout backup field) and West Van and Argyle meeting at Lynn Valley Park (Kilmer gravel if rainout). On Thursday Argyle and Handsworth will meet at 3:30 p.m. at Ambleside D while Sutherland will host Carson Graham at 4 p.m.
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