It was an unbelievable season of soccer for keeper Josh Pikul.
His club team with West Coast Auto Group made the U-18 gold provincials for the first time in his career.
His high school team, the Pitt Meadows Marauders, also played for a provincial championship.
The award is given each year for “dedication and commitment to the beautiful game,” said a press release, and he was one of 24 people from across B.C. to be recognized.
His girlfriend Rachel Batty handled the nomination, keeping it a secret, and relaying Pikul’s passion for the game.
“It surprised me – she did it without telling me,” said Pikul.
Coach Jeff Dumont said it is a rare honour, but the affable keeper is deserving winner. Pikul has a great attitude, and is “an obvious student of the game.”
Pikul played at the under-21 level for two seasons when he was 15 and 16 years old, and facing shots at that level, and with great coaching, his game took off.
He plays a confident style, with perfect positioning, makes the big save when it is needed, and turns the play back against the opposition quickly, said Dumont.
“He’s an overall balanced performer. He was phenomenal. Our team scored very few goals, but ended up at about .500, and it was largely because of him.”
The U-18 United finished fifth out of eight teams at the provincials in Vernon, with two wins and two losses, and just missed bronze.
With the Marauders, where he has started in goal since Grade 9, they finished eighth out of 16 teams at the high school provincials.
“It was really satisfying to play in two provincials in one year,” Pikul said.
His soccer idol is keeper Manuel Neuer of the Bundesliga club FC Bayern Munich and the German national team. He is also the captain for both teams, and is considered by many pundits as the best keeper in the game.
“He’s got a specific style, and I like to try and copy it,” said Pikul, explaining that Neuer is known as much for his “sweeper keeper” plays, where he aggressively comes way out of his box to play the ball, even heading it on occasion.
Making a great pass is almost as rewarding as making a save, Pikul said.
Pikul doesn’t know what the future of soccer holds for him.
“I just love playing the sport,” he said. “I can picture me playing at 60 years old in a walking league.”
In the fall he will try out for Douglas College, but notes there are three goaltenders already on the roster, so the competition will be fierce. He plans to study computer sciences.
He would also like to play with WCAGFC with an under-21 team for the coming season – with the same coach and the same core of players as the past year.
Coach Dumont said he is looking forward to working with a great group of young men again.
“That’s the poetry of it – when you can keep the same guys together, because they had fun.”