After three seasons and three championship games, the West Coast United men’s soccer team finally got its first President’s Cup this year.
Coach Michael Leslie explains that this team has been together for three years in the men’s division, but many of the players have known each other since they played youth soccer together.
He coached his sons, and many of the players he coached in their earliest days of soccer, as young as eight years old.
When they got together for their first season in men’s league, they had to play in the fourth division and work their way up. They won the league championship, with the one blemish on their record being a tie.
The next year, they were promoted to Division 3A, and again they were almost perfect at that level. They went undefeated for a second straight year, with just a tie.
This season, United faced the stiffer competition of the second division, and the team’s record dipped slightly, with 17 wins, one loss and two ties, to again win the league title.
Each year all the second, third and fourth division teams play off for the President’s Cup in a massive tournament between the 68 men’s teams in the Fraser Valley.
In each of the team’s first two years, United lost in the final, to teams from Langley.
But in early April, United played for the championship against the Fraser Valley Red Devils of Abbotsford, and won its first President’s Cup.
“We were finally able to break through and win it,” said Leslie.
The game was tied at the end of regulation and extra time, and United won on penalties.
United’s fifth shooter, Connor Hoekstra, who also won the Golden Boot as the league’s top scorer in regular season play with an 20 goals, put in the winner.
Leslie credits his keeper for ther win.
United will be promoted to the second division next year.
“We’re going to be tested for sure,” he said. “That’s be a challenge, but I think it’s the right level for us. We’ll hold our own.”
He said the team is well rounded on offence, with numerous threats to score.
“We’ve got quite a bit of pace up front – we counter eally quickly.”
He said there is a good chance that most of the team will return for the challenging new level next season.
He has three sons: Cory, 25, Trevor, 22, and Darcy, 19, on the team.
“I’ve really enjoyed coaching this group of players. Because they’ve known each other since they were eight years old, they’re more like a family.”