Sports

Strikers secure provincial berth

By Don Fennell

Published 11:39 PDT, Tue March 17, 2020

Last Updated: 1:59 PDT, Tue March 31, 2020

The juggernaut that is the Richmond Strikers continues.

For the second time in three years, the Strikers are league champions after posting a commanding 5-1 victory over rival Central City Breakers March 8 in Richmond. The victory also secured the side a berth in the provincial girls’ soccer championships; the only Richmond team to win a spot so far this season.

“The cohesion of this group has been unbelievable. When players play for each other good things are bound to happen,” says proud coach Mandhir Punia of the under-16 side.

West Vancouver, with whom Richmond was tied in points in the standings, controlled their own fate when it came to earning the top seed heading into weekend play. They had the advantage by way of the tiebreaker rules and a victory over Richmond (the Strikers’ only loss in 18 games) early in the season. But West Vancouver was upset 2-1 by Fraser Valley, a result Richmond learned of 45 minutes prior to taking to the pitch against Central City.

“I challenged the girls and they not only accepted it, they were calm, cool and collected—as if they knew they were not going to lose on this day,” says Punia. “Boy oh boy, did they ever dominate, with every player contributing.”

With a record of 16-1-1, during which they have outscored their opponents 79-17, the Strikers should head into the BC Soccer summer showcase July 2 to 5 at South Surrey Athletic Park with plenty of confidence.

As for future prospects, Punia believes those of the Strikers are bright.

“This is a couple (of) years away, but I definitely see several players playing university or college soccer, or high-level women’s soccer,” he says.

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