It remains the pinnacle of amateur men’s soccer leagues in B.C.
For the Coquitlam Metro-Ford premier Wolves, the Vancouver Metro Soccer League remains one tough nut to crack.
It’s been 21 years since Coquitlam collared its second of back-to-back VMSL titles, and while that drought isn’t completely dry — a Provincial Cup banner in 1999 remains a club highlight — the slogging has been rough.
Head coach Les Krivak knows exactly the challenge ahead.
In his first year as premier Wolves head coach, the veteran skipper envisions a few bumps along the way, like last week’s 2-0 loss to Westside in the season opener.
But he also expects steady progress each week.
“It’s going to be a challenge, no doubt,” Krivak said of contending in the mighty metro circuit. “Right now the strength of this club is we’re a very young team. And a young team that can build into a strong team.”
There are plenty of leaders among the pack — including striker Alfredo Valente, midfielder Andrew Veer, goalkeeper Mat Bird and captain Anthony DiNicolo.
But a big part of this year’s trajectory will be due to its youth.
“We’re quite young. There are some new faces but in the end it’s about how we play that matters,” noted Krivak.
The club’s first game was evidence of that.
Coquitlam out-played Westside but couldn’t beat a red-hot goalkeeper.
Despite holding an edge in possession during both halves, the Wolves came up empty. Westside, meanwhile, converted a rebound off a direct kick, and added the insurance marker in injury time.
Adam Jones had one of the best scoring opportunities for the Wolves in the first half, blasting a shot off the crossbar.
“In the second half we were all over them,” said the coach. “Their goalkeeper just stood on his head.”
At the other end, Dillan Fogliato did a stellar job of keeping it close, robbing a Westside shooter on a penalty kick.
A big part of Coquitlam’s youth movement won’t be available until the college and university seasons end in late November. That’s when the club will get an injection of talent, which would help them compete against the likes of Surrey United and West Vancouver, who have dominated the league in recent years.
But Krivak says no one can come in expecting playing time.
“In the past we’ve kind of expected [university players] to come in and make a difference; this year I want them to come in and prove themselves before we give them anything.”
The Wolves’ challenge this weekend won’t be an easy one, as they face two-time provincial champion Surrey United, which earned a 1-1 draw in its league opener with Burnaby. The reigning B.C. champs set the bar high in the VMSL, and that’s where Coquitlam is setting its sights — it just may take a little time, said Krivak.
“The start of the season is important, but it’s not a crucial time for me,” he noted. “For me, it’s better to start slow and finish strong.”
The Wolves’ home opener is Sept. 21, 3 p.m. when they host Inter FC at Town Centre East.
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