NORTH Vancouver buddies Giancarlo Cusano and Benito Colangelo started a men's soccer team three years ago and they've been winning ever since.
This weekend NVFC Campobasso will tackle their biggest challenge yet as they take on the Surrey FC Coyotes in the Provincial B Cup men's final Saturday at 3 p.m. at Burnaby Lake West Sports Complex, Field 5.
Campobasso earned a berth in the provincial final with a 21 semifinal win over Europa FC April 29 at Windsor secondary. This weekend's final will cap off an amazing three-year run for the team.
Cusano and Colangelo, both 24, started the club back in 2009 with a bunch of friends from high school, some players they knew from their metro soccer league days and even a few players scooped up through classified ads. They finished third in the Vancouver Metro Soccer League's third division that season but the next year they racked up a 16-1-1 record to move up to Div. 2 for the 2011-12 season. Their goal for the year, says Cusano, was just to stay out of the relegation zone.
"Pretty much the team consensus was we would love to finish top 5 but we basically just didn't want to get relegated back to division 3," he says. That goal soon changed.
"When we started to play I don't know if we underestimated our ability or overestimated the people we were playing against but we just started to realize that we had a chance and eventually the goal became, let's get promoted," says Cusano. And that's what they did, winning the league again to get bumped up to the VMSL's first division, one step below the elite premier ranks.
When league play ended this spring Campobasso kept on winning, earning three one-goal victories to make it to this weekend's provincial championship final. They're expecting another close one when they take on the Coyotes.
"Some of us went and watched the other semifinal so we had a chance to see them play and they do look quite big, fast and skilled," says Cusano. "It's going to be a very tough matchup for sure."
Campobasso - named after a city in Italy - is coached by Alfredo De Lucrezia and Tony Grieco with Cusano and Colangelo acting as president and vice-president and Ernie Janzen as team manager. They have one player who has an impressive resumÃ© - former Whitecap Dever Orgill signed on this season because he's getting married to one of the other player's cousins - but the rest of the players are just mostly North Shore guys who love playing the game, says Cusano. When it all started he and Colangelo were not expecting to rise through the ranks as fast as they have.
"We joke around - we say we were just two dreamers with a dream that sort of has taken off," he says. "We never expected it to get this far. We always joked around and said how great it would be to play in the premier division but we were thinking maybe one day down the road Campobasso would be in the premier division but we wouldn't be playing for it. We didn't think it would happen so quickly. But now we're basically knocking on the doorstep of premier and it's exciting."
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Two other North Shore teams will be making appearances at provincial championship day Saturday in Burnaby. West Van FC and Vancouver's Westside FC will battle in the Men's Masters Cup provincial final to decide which west is best. Game time is 11 a.m. at Burnaby Lake, Field 1.
On the women's side the North Shore Girls Soccer Club Impact will play the Aldergrove Adrenaline in the Provincial B Cup final. Game time is 12 p.m. at Burnaby Lake, Field 4.