At the very least, it was evident before they even took the field that a Coquitlam side would walk off the pitch with a trophy in hand.
In a match that pitted clubmates against one another, the Coquitlam Metro-Ford under-18 Ajax side carted off the B.C. Soccer League's Provincial Premier Cup thanks to a 1-0 win over Metro-Ford's u-17 squad.
Bolstered by Adam Jones' first-half tally, Ajax has now punched its ticket through to the national championships in Nova Scotia come October.
"It was a fairly tight game. Obviously with both teams coming from Metro Ford, we knew each other very well," said Ajax coach Russel Huggon. "We set out to get at them really hard, really early and that's the way we've been playing for the last six or seven weeks."
In looking to get at it right off the hop, it took just seven minutes for Ajax to make its mark on the contest. After centre midfielder Julian Katz was fouled within the opposing side's 18-yard box, Jones, an attacking midfielder, deposited the game's lone goal from the penalty spot.
From there, it was a case of absorbing any counter attacks and defending with pin-point precision.
"They came out and they knew they had to play physical because we're older," Huggon said of the opposing side. "A couple of their players were playing like men out there and they made it really difficult to get our passing game going. But we didn't chase. We defended very hard and made it very difficult for them."
Ajax made it through to the finals after easily dispatching of Thompson Okanagan FC by a count of 4-0 on Friday night. Much like in the finals contest, Jones scored from the penalty spot, although he made his mark twice in the semi-final match.
In making their way to the finals, the Ajax side was dominant down the season stretch: the u-18s won eight of their last nine games and scored more than 35 goals during that stretch, while only conceding a single tally.
Before that run of dominance, however, question marks hung over the team given their lack of consistency.
"We weren't doing so well at different points in the season, and we had way too many ties," Huggon said. "At times we weren't even in the playoff picture. We just stuck to our guns and believed that the team comes above all else."
Maintaining that cohesiveness could prove tricky, however, as the vast majority of the team's players will now ship off to various universities and colleges. With the nationals more than three months away, training time could be at a premium in advance of the big dance.
Not too worry, says Huggon. "We work a lot on togetherness and how we want to play as a team, so I'm not too worried about the team in that sense. These boys have wanted this their whole lives, so we'll be ready for nationals," he said.
Unfortunately for the rest Ajax's clubmates, victory proved to be elusive at last week's playdowns: the u-14s boys lost 1-0 to Surrey United; the u-16 girls were tripped up by a 2-0 score at the hands of Mountain United and the u-15 girls dropped a 2-0 decision to Surrey.
© Copyright 2013