“The Kondors are not only alive and well, they’re actually pretty hot right now.”
Talk about rising from the ashes. Kwalikum Secondary School’s senior boys soccer team had a great ride back from Victoria Wednesday night, knowing they’d pulled their season out of the fire and earned their school’s third consecutive berth in the AA provincial championships.
Just over a week ago, the host Kondors hung on for a fourth place finish at the North Island finals in Qualicum Beach. Two days later (last Friday) they made the trip down to Cowichan where they trimmed the Esquimalt Dockers 2-nil in a wildcard game for the last berth in the eight-team Island finals.
Back at it this Tuesday and Wednesday at Saint Michael’s University School, the Kondors opened the Islands with an upset 3-0 win over the No. 1 seed from the North, the Gulf Island Scorpions.
The Scorpions were the favourites in this one, but the lads from Kwalikum came to play.
“It’s been quite the ride,” Kondors’ coach Butch Gayton confirmed from his cell phone on the way home from Victoria shortly after the game.
Connal Spencer staked the Kondors to the early lead with two first half goals, and Grade 10 call-up Darien Atkinson iced the win in the second half when he connected on a ‘greasy’ rebound with time winding down.
“We were very excited — they’re a solid team, very skillful, and we were very happy to get out of there with the win,” said Gatyon, adding, “they hit some posts and a cross bar, they pressured us big-time, but our thing now is we absorb the pressure and then counter-attack — that’s been the key.”
Against the South No. 2 Glenn Lyon Norfolk Gryphons Tuesday afternoon, the locals “came out flat and tired and never gained any traction,” in a 4-1 loss.
Andreas Zehrer counted for the Kondors off a penalty kick.
In game three with their season on the line against the Carihi Tyees, the locals responded with a solid 3-1 win.
Atkinson opened the scoring when he buried a Ben Robson rebound about 10 minutes in, and Spencer upped it to 2-nil with a twisting, turning, left-footed half-volley.
“It was a really bad angle and somehow he spun around and ripped the far side of the net apart,” said Gayton.
Atkinson reeled in the win over the Tyees with about 10 minutes left in the game when he connected on a cheeky little chip over the charging keeper.
That win earned KSS a spot in Wednesday’s three-four game against the Highland Raiders, with the winner of that match earning the final berth into the B.C.s.
The Raiders punished the Kondors 7-1 at the North Islands, but it was a different story line on Wednesday.
“So we’re dominating the game and Darien gets red-carded 10, 15 minutes in for objectionable conduct but the thing was we never missed a beat,” said coach Gayton, adding “it brought out some inner beasts in our guys … it was nice to see.”
Inner beasts indeed as the Kondors sent the Raiders packing in what Gayton described as “an emotional” 2-1 final.
The two longtime rivals played to scoreless first half draw, and Andreas opened the scoring early in the second.
The Raiders drew even about 10 minutes later off a free kick.
Connell lifted the Kondors into the B.C.s when he scored the golden goal just as time expired.
“So the ref blows the whistle to mark the goal and then he immediately blows it again to end the game. I’ve never witnessed that before,” said Gayton, then confirmed what we suspected, that “the boys were very happy.”
“It was quite a mob scene on the field,” he chuckled, “some of the guys may have sustained some career-ending injuries in the ensuing dog-pile.”
Keeper Kevin Frampton “had an outstanding weekend,” tending the mesh for the Kondors every minute of all four games.
“We definitely had some standouts this week,” said Butch.
Starting with the North Islands (Nov. 1-2), the Kwalikum’s senior boys soccer team played 10 games in 9 days.
“And that’s not including their Oceanside (youth soccer) commitments,” said Gayton, adding, “we’re paying for it now though — we have a lot of sore and inured bodies, but we have 11 days to heal up and get better.”
Whatever happens from here on out says Gayton is all a bonus.
With no returning players from last year, “they wrote us off at the start of the season,” said Gayton, adding, “we had no metro players, no development players, no nothing, just a bunch of Oceanside players that have come together to play as a team.
“This team was given no chance,” said the longtime local high school coach, “so for them to earn a chance to prove themselves at the provincials is pretty special …very rewarding. It keeps me ticking.”
The Kondors new set their sights on the BC High School AA Sr. Boys Provincial soccer championships slated for Burnaby Fields Nov. 21-23.