Got giants? No problem

Los Diablos play giant-killers in their year-end soccer playdowns in Nanaimo

Los Diablos’ Nicolas Conway blocks a hard shot in the pouring rain earlier this season.

They weren’t the biggest team on the pitch by any stretch, but Oceanside’s Los Diablos played giant-killers in Nanaimo last weekend as they knocked off not only one, but two of the top-seeded teams to win gold at their NDYSS U14/U15 boys year-end playdowns.

In action on the new turf fields at Merle Logan in Nanaimo last weekend and slotted fourth in the seven-team tourney going in, the local side opened Saturday morning with a convincing 4-2 win over fifth-seeded Cedar.

In a sign of things to come, Pedro Hernandez struck for two goals and Tony Trozzo and Jacob Watson added singles.

Back at it that afternoon for the semifinals, Oceanside pulled off an upset of the huge variety when they knocked off the Nanaimo Black Ops. The top-seeded Black Ops were undefeated over the regular season.

“That was a big in for us,” confirmed Oceanside head coach Dave Robinson.

In that game, Pedro staked Oceanside to an early 1-0 lead, and Nanaimo replied in the dying minutes of the opening half for a 1-1 tie at the break

“I was a bit worried,” said Robinson. “It was our second game of the day and I thought fatigue might factor in in the second half, but I was pleasantly surprised …”

Pedro upped to 2-1 early in the second half. Trozzo made it 3-1, and Pedro completed the hat trick with about 10 minutes remaining to seal the improbable 4-1 victory.

“What’s really neat about this is that we play in a U14/ U15 division, and our team had all U14 players — we had no Grade 9 players on our team, not one, so most of the season we were playing much larger teams.”

“And this particular Black Ops team had a number of really big players.  Our guys were quite courageous — all weekend.”

Game 3 Sunday afternoon in the gold medal game against Nanaimo’s JH Mafia, Robinson said “we were outmatched for most of the first half.”

Down 2-nil at the break, Oceanside picked up their play in the second half and were carrying much of the play when they were finally rewarded with about 15 minutes remaining off a nice pass from Tony to Pedro who slotted it in the corner to cut the lead in half.

The Los Diablos cranked up the pressure, and with about six minutes left the ball fell nicely for Watson who scored “an absolute screamer from about 20 yards out top right corner. One of the most beautiful goals I’ve seen,” said Robinson, adding at that point the parents on hand went wild and the Mafia were clearly rattled.

“I have to be honest, after the first half it did not look like it was going to be our day,” said the coach, “but our guys persevered and managed to find a way to stun them with two late goals.”

Nanailmo pressed and came close as they had a couple corner kicks, but Oceanside keeper Nolin Fong “made several outstanding saves” to preserve the tie.

In the shoot-out, Oceanside went 3-for-4. Lucas Sposato scored on the final shot to secure the win, and Fong, who also took a shot and scored in the shoot-out “was a difference-maker in net all weekend for us.”

Earning high praise from their coach for their tenacious play were midfielders Theo Faust-Robinson and Wesley Terpstra “who won a lot of the little battles to get the ball back for us.”

Robinson also had props “for all my defenders,” — center-backs Nicolas Conway and Rob McIntosh, and defenders Sposato and Colin Koelewyn.

“It was awesome — just one of the best weekends of soccer I’ve got to experience in my (14) years coaching.”

 

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