A local soccer club recently completed a rare hat trick and now three of its teams will be shooting for success at the national level.
At the Manitoba Provincial Soccer Championships last month, held at the Waverley Soccer Complex, the Bonivital Flames boys teams won all three titles at the U-14, U-16 and U-18 level.
In the U-14 title showdown, Bonivital, coached by Tony Lourenco, Anthony Lourenco and Carlos Goncalves, overcame Portage Trail 2-1 in overtime to secure a place at the nationals in Lethbridge, Alta. next month.
In the U-16 game, the Flames, coached by Ralf Cantafio and Malcolm Mitchell, defeated Winnipeg South End United 1-0 and will now head to the nationals in Kamloops, B.C.
And in the final decider, Bonivital’s U-18 side eventually overcame Portage Trail in a dramatic eight-man penalty shootout after regular play yielded a 1-1 and overtime couldn’t separate the deadlock. Coached by Jorge Cabral and Dave Knock, the team will now travel to Mount Pearl, N.L. in the search for glory.
Lourenco, the U-14 coach, said the experience of competing in the recent MSA Cup tournament provided a perfect stepping stone to the national championship and he believes his side’s success was partly down to depth and resilience of his squad.
"The tournament is what all districts prepare for and, ultimately, want to win in the respective age groups. It allows these young men and women the opportunity to go to the nationals and compete against the best across Canada," said Lourenco, 48, who lives in Royalwood.
"The final was a good, close game that needed extra time to decide the winner. I thought we had the majority of play throughout the game and produced the better opportunities to score, but we faced a very good Portage Trail goalie, who kept them in the game. We ultimately scored the winning goal from a crossed ball that was headed in the net."
Lourenco, a sales manager at Plasti-Fab, plans to eventually take a break from coaching to rejuvenate and regroup — but not before helping guide his players on their national adventure, where he rates their chances.
"My approach to coaching is to make it challenging and fun and try to bring out the passion in the boys on the field. I try to key in on specific areas of training to develop possessional play and technique on the ball, along with aerobic and core training throughout the winter months," Lourenco said.
"I believe this talented group of boys have a very good chance of medalling at the nationals. They are very creative in their play and will give many teams trouble in trying to contain them in the attacking third of the field. This is my first time at the nationals, so I’m looking forward to the challenges that it presents us and seeing how we stack up against others across the country."
"I’m very fortunate to be part of a special group of young men who have worked extremely hard to achieve this goal I look forward to representing Manitoba and Bonivital at the nationals," he added.
For more information, visit www.bonivitalsoccer.com.