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Soccer tournament brings best teams together

Four Powell River clubs set to compete for the 54th Island Invitational Cup
Powell River U14 Energy
CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON: Powell River U14 Energy will play for its second championship this year at the Island Invitational Cup. Team members include [back row, from left] coach Tony Leach, Austyn Leach, Owen Bennie, Andrew Krowitz, Evan Dendewicz, Raffi Reghelin, Jaxon Pangburn, Jack Padgett, Malcolm Williams, Marik Agius, Jacob Duyvestyn, Brandon Marshman and assistant coach Dan Agius, and [front row, from left] Makia Elliot, Marcus Cramb, Devin Cleghorn and Sage Worthen. Contributed photo

Bragging rights in youth soccer are on the line at the 54th Island Invitational Cup on April 28 and 29 in Powell River. Four Powell River Youth Soccer Association (PRYSA) teams will be competing.

Also called “The Tournament of Champions,” 18 teams will compete to play in a one-game, winner-take-all final between the Lower Island Soccer Association champion and Upper Island Soccer Association champion in each division.

Powell River teams include U14 boys Energy, U16 boys Panthers, U14 girls Strikers and U15 girls Eagles.

Energy has already won a championship this year after beating Bays United 1-0 for the Island B Cup championship played in Victoria on February 24. Marcus Cramb scored the winning goal with an assist coming from Jacob Duyvestyn.

That victory gave Energy a spot in BC Soccer Provincial B Cup Championships in Burnaby from July 5 to 8.

“This is a great year for soccer to have qualified one team for provincials and if our U14 girls can win the coastal cup they'll secure themselves a seat into the provincials as well,” said PRYSA president Nova Cleghorn.

Energy and Powell River’s U14 girls Eagles are both in the chase for the BC Coastal Cup as well, advancing to the semi-finals on April 22.

Energy has home-field advantage for its 1 pm game against Port Coquitlam at Brook Secondary School’s turf field while the Eagles are on the road in North Surrey.

Energy beat North Vancouver Mavericks in their quarter-final match on April 15 in Powell River. The game went to penalty kicks after going through two overtime periods.

Eagles coach Tony Leach said his team plays a possession game with a strong back line and has one of the best goalkeepers in the league, Devin Cleghorn, who was named PRYSAMVP this season for U14.

Panthers will play their arch rivals, Juan de Fuca, in the Island Cup this weekend.

“This will be the third straight year we've met them in the Island finals and we played them in provincials last year, as well,” said Panthers coach Tony Rice. “We've played them four times, three times in Island finals and once to go to provincials, and three of the four games have gone to penalty shots. It's very tight.”

Juan de Fuca has yet to beat the Panthers and, according to Rice, although his players struggled scoring goals this year, they’ll be tough and the game will be intense.

“Both are physical teams, move the ball well, and try to play some nice stuff,” said Rice, “but when you get familiar with a group the games get that much more competitive and the temperatures go up a bit. I'm pretty sure they'll be coming hard for us.”

Youth soccer is big in Powell River, with 427 players registered with the association.

“Powell River, being such a small community, we do a really good job with our technical director and volunteer executive,” said Cleghorn, “to make sure kids of every level get an opportunity to play soccer.”