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Victoria United Poised for Triple Crown

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By Vern Faulkner, Esquimalt News

July 29, 2004

Victoria United is in the drivers' as the team pushes toward the Pacific Coast Soccer League title.

"That was our first goal," admitted coach Dante Zanatta.

Yet again, the local soccer side wants to pull off the unthinkable: league title, championship title, and the J.F. Kennedy Cup title as the best amateur team in the Pacific Northwest.

Even if United lose both its remaining games, it will likely claim the league title based on goal differential with Fraser Valley. A mere tie in either of those two matches, and United sews up its first in the three-part package set as goals much earlier this summer.

The team slowly improved after a slow start - the early wrinkles perhaps due to an influx of unfamiliar faces.

Of those faces, two locals and an import from Qualicum Beach show the greatest promise.

Indeed, Rowan Anders, a mere 19-year-old playing among grown men, is now the rightful go-to goaltender for United. Anders comes to the squad with impressive credentials, however - a member of Team B.C. last year, he's also earned a scholarship to Dartmouth.

Two young homegrown products delight Zanatta.

Greg Fiddick, a product of Vantreights in the Vancouver Island Soccer League, and Lee Yakubowich, a graduate of Lambrick Park secondary, both figure into the United mix.

Zanatta favours a dynamic attack, with active midfielders spreading the ball wide to streaking forwards willing to attack at a moment's notice. It's a proven technique as long as the collective skill is adequate.

"The style is still the same. The players have got a little better," Zanatta said.

Fiddick, young as he may be, shows signs of blazing talent.

"We're almost calling him super-sub, because it seems like every time we put him on the field, he scores."

For the most part, the team looks to proven talents such as Steve Williams, one of the deadliest strikers in the league, and other regulars such as Will Moore and Tobin Whitmarsh.

Should one falter, another fills the void.

"Everybody has played well at some (point)," Zanatta said.

While the attack purrs along, the back end hasn't exactly been sleeping.

In the last four games, Anders and the United defenders locked the door. At this level, four games without a goal against is a significant achievement.

That's why the veteran bench boss feels he's closer to the triple crown of league, championship, and JF Kennedy trophies than ever before. Not, however, to say that it's an easy task.

"Any time you win three trophies in one year - that's hard," Zanatta said.

After United, leading the league with but two losses all year, and the almost as potent (but not quite) Fraser Valley Action, the guts of the PCSL follow not far behind.

It's a tough league, especially given the 18-game schedule.

"You have to be a your best in all of them."

Winning the league championship - something United has done on several occasions - is a tough two-game in two-day stint.

"You could dominate a game and not win it, so you need a bit of luck," Zanatta stated. "It came back and haunted us last year. There were two or three games that we dominated, and did everything but hit the net. We hit the outside, the crossbar, the goalie - we did everything but put it in."

Regardless of the outcome of the games yet played, United also has a shot at the J.F. Kennedy Cup - as tournament host, Aug. 14-15.

Zanatta doesn't want to come in through the back door.

"It's a get-out-of-jail card: it's nice to have it in the back of the pocket, but we want to be there as a deserving host," he said. "We want to be the top team in the league, so even though we're hosting it we have a right to be there."

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Victoria United's draw 1-1 with Seattle Hibernian

July 31, 2004

On a hot summer afternoon, made hotter by a determined Seattle Hibernian, Victoria United earned the single point they need to top the 2004 Pacific Coast Soccer League standings with a 1 - 1 draw.

The local lads looked to open the scoring, having dominated early play when Tobin Whitmarsh scored from close range only to have the goal disallowed for a late offside call courtesy of the assistant referee.

Seattle took the initiative and opened the scoring when Alex Chursky powered his way down the centre before beating Rowan Anders (31', 0:1) who has not allowed a goal in the last four games.

Some tenacious on both sides prevented either side making to many shots on target as United tried to wear down the visitors. It was not until well into the second half that United was able to capitalize on their chances with a messy goal as Kevin Gilbert bundled it in (68', 1:1) from a goal mouth scramble that saw the box filled with blue and white shirts but no fouls. Gilbert was recently named to the PCSL All Star team which played against Heart of Midlothian of the SPL at RAP.

Full of confidence and aided by their full substitutes bench United took play to the visitors and threatened but never produced another goal.

The single point earned for the draw was enough to secure them the 2004 League Championship. Coach Dante Zanatta is already looking past the last league game next Saturday August 7 against PSCL freshmen Richmond Clan. United will be hosting the John F. Kennedy Cup Tournament at Royal Athletic Park August 14 & 15 featuring themselves and the top challengers from BC, Washington and Oregon States.

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