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Sports in review: Big wins on national & provincial stages for Delta teams

U15 Delta Blue Jays and Ladner Pioneers earn Canadian titles while Sun Devils and Storm deliver memorable provincial titles on the soccer pitch and ice

Breakthrough triumphs at the national and provincial levels made 2022 a special year for sports in Delta.

The Optimist looks back at some of those special achievements over the past 12 months:

All the President’s Men

It’s a lacrosse tournament like no other and the Ladner Pioneers produced a memorable week in Edmonton back in early September to capture the President’s Cup national championship.

It was the third title in franchise history and the first since 2004. It took eight games in seven days, including an 8-6 win over Can-Am League champions Akwesasne Bucks in the gold medal game.

It was the Pioneers’ fourth consecutive trip to nationals after initially being overwhelmed at the 2017 tournament. This time they headed to Alberta with a roster loaded with pro talent with longtime head coach Ross Frehlick knowing exactly what it would take to reach the top of the podium.

Among the number of pro players joining Ladner this summer was hometown standout Logan Schuss. He scored twice in the gold medal game and has duplicated the feat his father (Ed) pulled off as one of the team’s all-time great players. Ed was on the bench Saturday.

“I grew up a Pioneer. I have been going to Ladner arena since I could walk. This one is special to be bringing it back to Ladner,” said Logan.

Bringing the Ray Carter Cup back to his field

The Delta Blue Jays capped their dream summer by capturing Baseball Canada’s 15U Ray Carter Cup in Saskatoon back in August with a 4-2 victory over Quebec in the gold medal game. Ironically, Carter is a longtime Tsawwassen resident and Delta Sports Hall of Fame inductee who served for many years on Baseball Canada’s executive. Their home diamond at Winskill Park in Tsawwassen is also named after him.

It was about eight years ago Tsawwassen Amateur Baseball’s Wayne Laviolette approached Cam Frick about coaching a new Bantam AAA regional team. Under his guidance the Delta Tigers became a powerhouse in B.C. Minor Baseball, including a second place finish at the 2019 nationals. The team moved over to the B.C. Premier Baseball Bantam Prep League in 2020 and became an official affiliate of the PBL’s Delta Blue Jays, with the name change happening this season.

 “Our guys have worked so hard. I got to say I'm pretty demanding as a coach,” Frick chuckled. “We play a ton of games. We practice more than anybody and we want to play the best teams. We want to challenge our guys and I think every year it seems we peak at the right time.

A Devil of a time in Cloverdale

The South Delta Sun Devils captured their second provincial banner in school history back in early June with a dramatic 3-2 overtime win over Richmond’s McMath Wildcats in a steady downpour at Cloverdale Athletic Park.

The senior girls soccer team showed its resiliency to twice battle back from one goal deficits to pull out the victory, capped by Gemma Dumas’ go-ahead tally in the first overtime half. It was a script similar to Thursday’s semi-final that saw South Delta rally for a 2-1 win over Argyle, also in extra time.

“There were times this season where the girls had to dig deep and they always did it with the belief in their football and themselves,” said Sun Devils co-coach Brent Sweeney. “They just have the resiliency to not hang their heads and they did that twice today.”

University of Calgary recruit Brianna Jassmann was named the tournament’s MVP having led her team in scoring, including a pair of goals in the semi-final and another in the title game. Teila Noble was superb anchoring the backline and was selected to the Commissioner’s 16 Team for her outstanding play.

A Storm to remember in Campbell River

The South Delta Minor Hockey Association (SDMHA) had to make room at the Ladner Leisure Centre for its first provincial championship banner in 15 years thanks to a thrilling victory in Campbell River back in March.

The A1 Storm won B.C. Hockey’s U18 tier two provincial championship after edging Hollyburn 3-2 in double overtime. Blueliner Dylan Van Poelgeest ended nearly 90 minutes of drama when he jumped on a turnover to score his first goal of the tournament in the late stages of the second sudden-death session.

 “I don’t even know what the right word is. The excitement. The chaos. The parents were going nuts and the guys were going nuts,” said Storm head coach Ken Priestlay of the euphoria that followed the overtime goal. “We didn’t even know if we would be getting the (championship) banner right away until they brought it out (for the medal ceremony) and then you realize even more what the boys have accomplished and that’s coming back to South Delta.

Not forgotten…

- The Seaquam Seahawks captured their first-ever B.C. Junior Girls Basketball title at the Langley Events Centre. 

-The South Delta Sun Devils senior girls basketball team enjoyed their best season in 17 years, winning the South Fraser championship and finishing 10th at the provincial tournament. The Devils begin the 2022-23 campaign ranked among the top teams in B.C.

- Delta Ice Hawks nearly won it all on home ice, falling to Pacific Junior Hockey League rival Langley Trappers in the Cyclone Taylor Cup provincial junior “B” championship game.

-It was a dream debut for the Delta Coastal Selects at B.C. Soccer’s Provincial “A” Cup Championships. The girls rep team culminated a fantastic inaugural season by capturing the U13 title with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over league rival Port Coquitlam Reign in the final played in July at South Surrey Athletic Park. Playing its first season at 11 aside, the Division One squad was formed in the spring of 2021 through a partnership between South Delta United Soccer Club and North Delta Football Club after the B.C. Coastal Soccer League made the decision to eliminate the Metro Division to reduce the number of tiers, starting with the incoming U13s.

- A sizzling summer on the golf course, including winning the prestigious Washington State Amateur for Tsawwassen’s Jace Minni.

- Ladner pitcher Nevada Johnson earned her first ever senior national team event and collected plenty of individual awards including Softball B.C. Indigenous Player of the Year.

- A clutch performance from Jared Maznik led B.C. to an upset win over Ontario to claim gold at the Canada Summer Games. The Ladner lacrosse standout would later commit to Harvard.

- Following the tragic cycling accident that took the life of triathlete and longtime Tsawwassen resident Mike Starko back in April, friends and family launched the Mike Starko Challenge in September. The month-long fitness event concluded with a gala at the Beach Grove Golf Club and raised $37,000 for his favourite charity, Right to Play.

- The Southpointe Academy Titans and South Delta Sun Devils reached the podium at their respective provincial girls volleyball championships in December, earning silver and bronze.

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