Lakers pull off late victory over J.L. Crowe Hawks

Number-3 seeded Crowe delivered a suffocating defensive performance in shutting out second seed L.V. Rogers of Nelson.

The J.L. Crowe Hawks senior boys soccer team pushed the Kootenay region’s defending champion David Thompson Secondary School Lakers to the limit, before suffering a 2-0 loss at Crowe Field on Friday in the Provincial AA qualifying soccer tournament.

“They (Crowe) played their hearts out,” said Hawks soccer coach Neil Moon. “But full credit to Columbia Valley they played a great game. Two crackers for goals so give them credit.”

Number-3 seeded Crowe delivered a suffocating defensive performance in shutting out second seed  L.V. Rogers of Nelson, 1-0, on an early marker from Roberto Torres in the opening match Friday. The win propelled the Hawks into the final against the number-1 seed Lakers from Invermere, who beat fourth seed Selkirk Secondary, 3-0, in their opening match.

“I think we spent too much energy in that game (against Nelson),” said Moon. “We just didn’t have enough in the final and that cold rain this morning really saps, but they played through it.”

The cold, wet, and blustery conditions wrecked havoc on the pitch and the players. But the Hawks played even with last year’s regional representative through the first half.  Each team generated chances, but the highlight came midway through the half when Crowe goalie Sean Hogarth made back-to-back point-blank saves to keep the game scoreless.

Invermere came out with a determined attack in the second half. With less than 10 minutes to play, left-center forward Chase Striegel finally beat Hogarth with a vicious strike from outside the box for what would stand up as the winning goal.

Then, with less than three minutes remaining, Valentin Fisher blasted a free kick from 20-yards out into the top corner to seal the victory and book Invermere’s return to the B.C. AA Soccer Championship.

“I’m very happy, the game was just phenomenal,” said David Thompson coach Jurgen Striegel. “It could have gone either way. Trail played phenomenal, and it’s always great when we play them, it’s a very physical game and at the end we were just a little more lucky.”

Moon’s teams have faced rival coach Striegel of Columbia Valley for the past 10-years, both in the Kootenay South Youth Soccer Association (KSYSA) and at the high school level. But for Moon, this game was different. It marked the end of his coaching days in the Kootenays, at least for now, as the Fruitvale native gets set to relocate to Edmonton this week.

“It would have been nice to get this team to the provincials but you know what, soccer is alive and well at Crowe high again,” said Moon. “It’s been a lot of years . . . but we’ve had a chance to re-ignite it and I think they have a good future again.”

Moon has been a tireless supporter of local soccer, coaching at every level, and leading his KSYSA boys select teams to unprecedented success at the provincial championships during that time.

“I’m very sad to be leaving,” added Moon. “I’ve had two provincial bronze medals at the select level, and second place isn’t so bad here – it’s been great and what a good bunch of kids.”

David Thompson Secondary School will play in the provincial tournament Nov. 23-25 in Burnaby.