It was a silver showing for the Argyle Secondary senior boys team in provincial AAA soccer action.
The Pipers made it all the way to the championship game at the provincial tournament held Nov. 25-27 in Burnaby before falling to Saanich’s Reynolds Secondary 1-0 on a last-minute goal in the final. The Pipers had the firepower to go for gold, but they should be proud to take silver, said Argyle head coach Darren Rath.
“It was an exceptional team,” said Rath. “I’m very proud of the entire team and the performance of every player. The boys should be proud of their accomplishment, being able to make it to the final and play well in the final. … The team did really well and deserved to be in the final, and it’s unfortunate that we didn’t win.”
The tournament technically wasn’t called a provincial championships but rather a coastal championships because two teams – one from Kelowna and another from Fort St. John – couldn’t make it due to flood damage in the province, but it was nonetheless a challenging tournament featuring 16 of the best teams in the province.
The Pipers registered two wins and a tie to finish first in their preliminary group, before topping a tough Riverside Secondary team from Port Coquitlam 3-1 in a semifinal matchup to make it to the final.
Rath noted strong play from several Argyle players in the tournament, led by Grade 12 midfielder and team captain Cole Anderson, and Grade 11 defensive leader Gavin Archer.
Carl Spat, Liam Nilsson and Jonathan Ash-Roberts also played lockdown defence in front of star goalie Lucas Robson, with Keita Sugamata, Dominic Berg and Aiden Crook powering the team from midfield. Forward Nick Zaparniuk was the team’s leading goal scorer with fellow striker Tait Moffat leading in assists, pushing the attack with winger Bradley Holliday.
The silver showing kept up a string of strong play from the Pipers over the past several seasons, as the Argyle boys have finished second three times – 2016, 2017 and 2021 – over the past five seasons, with the 2020 campaign getting wiped out by COVID. That consistency at the provincial level shows the depth of the Argyle program, said Rath.
“All of those teams have common traits,” he said. “They're a fantastic group of players on and off the field, they have good team chemistry amongst them all. And all three of the teams are committed, and all three of them have depth – every key position is filled, and there are multiple players that were willing to or capable of stepping up and filling any role that is that is needed throughout the season.”
And Rath is expecting his Pipers to be a provincial powerhouse again next season, as only six players on this year’s roster of 23 Argyle players will be graduating this year.
“There’s a very strong core group of Grade 11s that will be back in the team,” said Rath, adding that six Grade 10s and one very talented Grade 9 will also be returning to the senior team next season.
“For the Grade 11s and the younger ones that will hope to be back there again next year and hope to win the whole thing next year, I do believe they have the ability to do so,” he said. “I think they legitimately have a chance to be in the same position and I believe that they can win it next year.”