St. Michael’s University School own high school soccer bragging rights again after defeating bitter rivals Oak Bay High School in the Colonist Cup final by a score of 2-0. Max Pollen and Brian Im made their way onto the score sheet for the Blue Jags, who dominated the cagey and physical match and came out on top.
All senior high school soccer teams in Victoria compete for the Colonist Cup, and this win marks the second year in a row that SMUS have won the coveted trophy. Last year, they owed their victory to a pair of goals from Michael Baart—a performance that caught the eyes of UVic Men’s coach Bruce Wilson and eventually led to Baart playing for the Vikes following his graduation from St. Michael’s.
With that in mind, there was a lot more to play for than just the trophy itself, and both teams seemed well up to the challenge at the start of the match.
Both teams were prepared to attack and there were clinical strikers on either side of the pitch. Forward Charlie Miller led the line for Oak Bay, while Brian Im was the lone striker for St. Michael’s. Both players were limited to half-chances in the early minutes as both defenses recognized the threat and looked to limit it.
The two teams had met earlier in the season, tying 4-4 in an exhilarating match. However, on this blustery and chilly evening it was a much more even affair, with both teams hesitant to make any mistakes that could cost them the cup.
Oak Bay dominated the first 20 minutes of the game in front of a spirited crowd with fans from both schools, but the first real chance of the game fell to SMUS midfielder Matthew McColl. His free header from eight yards somehow flashed wide of the goal, yet just minutes later he had another chance to put SMUS into the lead; but, Oak Bay goalkeeper Mark Piazza tipped his effort wide of the post.
Despite Oak Bay dominating possession, St. Michael’s were coming closer and closer to scoring, and they eventually broke the deadlock in the second half.
A long free-kick from SMUS center-back Callum Montgomery found the head of McColl inside the penalty box and following a brief scramble on the goal line, Pollen was in the right place to bundle the ball over the line, delighting the contingent of St. Michael’s fans on the touchline.
The goal spurred Oak Bay back on the attack, but the defensive partnership of Montgomery and Michael Cernucan held fast for the Blue Jags.
The game soon devolved into a physical and scrappy affair. Players on both teams were reprimanded for off-the-ball incidents, though the game took a dark turn just before the 80th minute.
Following some pushing and shoving throughout the second half, Oak Bay forward Miller made a dangerous challenge to Montgomery. The referee quickly made his mind up and reached for the red card, leaving Oak Bay down a goal and a man.
SMUS wasted no time in capitalizing on their numerical advantage, with forward Im being the goal scorer this time. After winning the ball in the center of the field, Im charged to the edge of the 18-yard box before curling a spectacular effort past the grasp of Piazza.
The game finished without any further incident, and with both teams heading to their respective provincial championships—AA for SMUS, and AAA for Oak Bay. St. Michael’s will relish the win against their rivals.
“Our defense is great—we have a lot of big guys,” said midfielder and goal scorer Max Pollen. “I thought we did pretty well against [their pressure] and came back with the right attitude.”
St. Michaels’ sights will now be set on the upcoming provincial championships.
“We have a lot of depth,” added Pollen, “so I think we’ve got a good chance. We’re really excited.”