Stephen Burns knows all too well the margin of error is so slim when it comes to the B.C. AAA Girls Soccer Championships.
The longtime coach of the South Delta Sun Devils has watched his team put together another impressive run at the 16-team tournament that will culminate today with a fifth place game against Coquitlam’s Charles Best at the Cloverdale Athletic Park.
With the format that puts heavy emphasis on group play, it typically comes down to one pivotal round-robin game that will determine the team’s championship destiny. Such was the case on Wednesday afternoon.
After digging deep to rally for a 2-1 win over Handsworth to open the championships, the Sun Devils squared off against the McMath Wildcats. The Steveston school entered the tilt with an identical record after getting past Victoria’s Claremont 2-0.
The game remained scoreless until the second half when South Delta seemed to run out of steam and the Wildcats produced the game’s only goal when they converted on a long ball counter. McMath then secured a semi-final berth with a 2-0 win over Handsworth on Thursday morning, while the Sun Devils took care of Claremont (2-0) to lock down second place.
“We were definitely on the throttle at the start but then we seemed to run out of energy. I think we just exhausted ourselves in the morning coming back in the Handsworth game the way we did. The second half was probably our best of the season,” said Burns.
“There are no excuses but the girls seemed spent (against McMath). They didn’t seem to have any energy left.”
The Sun Devils are making their record 18th straight appearance at provincials after finishing fourth in the last edition of the Fraser Valley Championships. Next year they will be part of the Fraser South Zone that will ironically include McMath.
“Walking into this (co-coach) Brent (Sweeney) and I were saying we would be really happy being in the top eight. But having said that, it’s disappointing to know you were one goal away (from the semi-finals),” added Burns.
The Sun Devils also slipped past Sardis on Thursday afternoon to earn the opportunity to play Charles Best for fifth.