The Royal Bay Ravens are in full flight.
Royal Bay Secondary School’s senior boys soccer team earned a berth in the provincials with a strong showing in the Island championship. The Ravens beat the North Island champion Cowichan Eagles 3-1 to kick off the tournament, which took place Nov. 7 and 8.
The Ravens, who finished third in lower Island regular season play, followed that up with a 1-0 win against Reynolds Secondary School before falling to Oak Bay 1-0 in the Island championship game. Despite the loss, Royal Bay finished as one of the top two teams on the Island and, along with Oak Bay, qualified for the provincials, which took place Nov. 22 to 24 at Burnaby Mountain.
The victory over Reynolds constitutes a major upset, said Ravens coach John Mennie. “Reynolds was the second-ranked team in the province,” Mennie said.
“I believe this is the first time an unranked boys soccer team from our school district has qualified for the provincials. The key is that it showed we’re able to compete with the bigger schools. Oak Bay and Reynolds have been considered powerhouses for many years. Just qualifying for the provincials is a win-win for these kids. The players now know they can compete with the best teams in the triple A program, and that’s a great confidence boost going into the provincial tournament.”
Mennie was quick to credit fellow coaches Brian Hobson and Kay Otani for playing a major role in the team’s success. “We’re very strong from the keeper out defensively,” said Mennie. “The boys are really playing for each other, and they play hard as a unit.”
Mennie, in his second year as a coach, is also director of the Royal Bay Soccer Academy. “The academy followed Troy Harris to Royal Bay from Belmont,” he said. “Troy’s responsible for a lot of the great things we’re doing here.” The soccer academy is a physical education class devoted to soccer where students can earn their PE credits, Mennie explained.