Vancouver Sun; with files from Canwest News Service
B.C. soccer was the big winner on Tuesday with the Mountain Whitecaps Under-16 boys team's victory in the Super Y North American Championships.
Mountain defeated New Jersey's TSF Academy 2-0 in the championship game, played at the Ed Radice Park Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
"It's a real credit to the Mountain club and what they've done this year," said Dan Lenarduzzi, Whitecaps FC director of youth development. "And it's a good day for B.C. soccer. Whenever you can get one of your group on to a North American platform and do well, it shows that we do have players at that level here in B.C. Not only is it great to show the success of the team, but it also shows that we are hopefully moving forward in terms of player development. The more people see that, I think the higher profile soccer is going to get and the more it's going to grow."
Mountain's road to the championship was perfect, as the U-16 boys claimed wins in all five of their matches and allowed just three goals against in the prestigious tournament, which included some of the best young talent on the continent.
Mountain opened with preliminaryround wins over Northern Virginia Royals (3-0), Florida's Schulz Academy (3-0) and Pennsylvania's Super Nova FC (4-3) before shutting out California's CZ Elite Soccer 1-0 on Monday to advance to the final. Burnaby's Alex Yoon and Port Moody's Sasha Vukovic scored for Mountain in the championship game.
The Super Y championship is the second for a Whitecaps affiliate. The Whitecaps U-13 boys were crowned North American champions in 2004. The Mountain squad included three members of the Whitecaps Delta Prospects Academy -- goalkeeper Toscanny Pandu-Oesman, defender Kyle Knees and midfielder Nolan Moore -- while head coach Les Krivak also serves as an assistant coach in the Whitecaps Prospects program.
"There's a real connection between ourselves and the club system," said Lenarduzzi, adding Whitecaps FC teams evolve from the club's professional development training programs such as Prospects, the support and partnership of regional clubs, the B.C. Soccer Association and the Canadian Soccer Association.
"We really think the future of the professional system and ultimately the national team system is a strong club system, which is part of our plan."
n A complete Mountain Whitecaps team roster can be found on page F6.
JUNIORS PLAY SWITZERLAND
Canada's men's junior soccer team takes on Switzerland in a friendly today as it continues to build toward the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt.
The Canadians have been training in Bern since Saturday, although snow in southern Switzerland has hampered the team's preparations.
On Monday, the team played to a 2-2 draw with Berner Sports Club Young Boys, a local club team.
"I am happy with the performance," said Tony Fonseca, coach of the Canadian under-20 team. "
There have been difficulties in training because of the snow. We will try to have another session (on Tuesday) and then after that will play our game [against Switzerland]."
The game marks the first time since 1985 that the Canadian and Swiss sides have played at the under-20 level.
© The Vancouver Sun 2008