Whitecaps FC 2's improbable run to the Western Conference Final did not happen overnight.
One of the first seeds was planted last winter, when Sem de Wit arrived on trial from the Netherlands.
One year later, the Dutch centre back is named Whitecaps FC 2 Player of the Year.
"He’s been our most consistent and impressive performer all season long. He’s been a major reason for our success," said Alan Koch, who coached one of the league's youngest teams to a 15-point improvement and a sixth seed in the competitive USL Western Conference.
De Wit was a linchpin to the team's hot start and extended postseason campaign, collecting 27 starts and 2,416 minutes played - both new single regular season records for the second-year side.
Not an easy feat, given the regularity of lineup changes to accommodate players on loan from the MLS team, Residency call-ups, as well as other WFC2 players who needed to see pitch time.
"He’s had to deal with a lot of moving parts. He hasn’t always played with the same centre back, the fullbacks have changed," explained Koch. "He’s had to manage a revolving door of defenders around him."
As the team's vice-captain, de Wit helped push teammates to reach their potential, translating to individual success for a number of WFC2 players, as well as points on their win-loss record.
"There are not many 21-year-old vice-captains on any professional team. He comes in with the right working mentality to work every day," Koch said. "He gets along with everybody in the group. He’s willing to push players when he has to push them. He’s also willing to put an arm around his teammates when his teammates need a little extra love and care."
A team-first type of player, de Wit garnered personal recognition himself - earning a USL Team of the Week nod after his home debut, then getting a chance with the first team in their international friendly versus Crystal Palace FC.
His contributions to the team's success have not gone unnoticed, earning him the honour of being 2016 Whitecaps FC 2 Player of the Year.
PREVIOUS WINNER: WHITECAPS FC 2 PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2015: Ben McKendry