The Lakehill FC Division 1 men’s team took home the Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL) Cup trophy for the first time ever on Friday evening.
Despite the wind and rain, the Saanich-based team beat Gorge FC 4-2 at Braefoot Park on Feb. 7 – game MVP Blair Sturrock and Wes Barrett each scored two goals. After 18 weeks of competition, the Saanich-based Division 1 men’s team became this season’s top club in the league.
What winning looks like! Congrats to Mark Bhopal and the Lakehill Div 1 men on the club’s first ever Garrison Cup! pic.twitter.com/5Z4AijivyR— Lakehill Soccer (@LakehillSA) February 8, 2020
A windy, rainy, cup-clinching night at Braefoot! Way to go Lakehill Div 1! pic.twitter.com/98e91exrSF— Lakehill Soccer (@LakehillSA) February 8, 2020
The league started in 1895 and Lakehill FC had never won the League Cup – called the Garrison Cup – until this year, said Vince Greco, VISL executive director.
He pointed out that they’ve come close a few times, but that 2020 was Lakehill FC’s time to shine.
“Full marks to them” because this was a tough season, he said. There was no clear winner going in as Greco felt there were about five teams that had a good shot at winning.
The team that placed second in the league had been undefeated all season but had tied too many games, Greco said. He explained that tied games are worth fewer points than a win.
Lakehill FC will definitely have their work cut out for them next season as they’ll be “on the radar as the team to beat,” he said.
But for now, the players and their coach, Mark Bhopal, are celebrating the win, he said. Their trophy is the same one that was awarded to the first League Cup winners in 1918. The sterling silver trophy is worth about $20,000 so the team was not allowed to take it to the after-party, Greco joked.
Bhopal, who’s coached the team for six years, was “really proud of the boys.” He noted how grateful he is to coach a team of “top skilled athletes” that have become like family.
In the next few weeks, the VISL teams will shift their focus to the upcoming playoffs to battle for the Jackson Cup – which Greco explained is like the VISL version of the Stanley Cup.
The league’s Division 1 and 2 teams will face off in the playoffs so technically the Lakehill Division 1 team could end up playing against their Division 2 team in the finals, Greco explained.
The Jackson Cup playoffs start next week and the finals are set to take place on Mar. 28 at the Westhills Stadium in Langford – where the Pacific FC team plays. Tickets will be available at the gate and kids 12 and under get in for free, Greco said.
Anyone interested in joining a soccer team can reach out to Greco through the VISL website before the next season starts in September.
“Soccer – especially on the Island – is such an all-inclusive sport,” he said, noting that soccer helps people connect with their community.