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UCC U13 team photo

UCC wins national soccer championship

Upper Canada College won its third consecutive Canadian Accredited Independent Schools’ U13 Boys’ National Soccer Tournament championship on Oct. 19 with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over West Vancouver’s Collingwood School.

UCC and Royal St. George’s College co-hosted the 16-team tournament, with all of the games played on four UCC fields. The UCC team, coached by Middle Division head Bernard Lecerf with assistance from the recently retired Johnny McGrath, went undefeated through six games through the preliminary rounds on Oct. 17 and 18. The team, which displayed excellent ball-control skills and sportsmanship throughout the tournament, defeated Vancouver’s St. George’s School 5-0 in a morning semi-final game to advance to the 12:30 p.m. final.

UCC had outscored its opponents 32-0 heading into the final, but it gave up the first goal off a Collingwood School corner kick midway through the first half. The team tied the game shortly before halftime to set the stage for an exciting finish. Rain fell throughout the first half and didn’t stop in the second as UCC pressed and had the better part of the play, but couldn’t put the ball in the Collingwood net. The squad’s defence and goaltending held strong, however, and UCC scored a second goal that proved to be the winner with a few minutes left in the game.

After the opponents shook hands and the UCC boys celebrated on the field, everyone moved into the Prep School’s Weston Hall for the closing ceremony. A slide show featuring tournament highlights was shown on a large screen, and then Prep athletics director Nigel White thanked everyone who contributed to the success of the tournament for all of their efforts.

Tournament co-host Royal St. George’s College defeated Toronto’s Sterling Hall School 1-0 to claim the Division 2 title, and both teams received medals. St. John’s Kilmarnock School from tiny Breslau, Ont. was presented with the newly inaugurated Johnny McGrath Trophy for being the most sportsmanlike team of the tournament. Collingwood players were then given their silver medals before the UCC 15 and their two coaches were presented with gold medals and the championship trophy. UCC has now won this national championship for three straight years and five out of the past six years.

“Having teams come from across the country makes it so special,” Lecerf said afterward. “The billeting is the big thing about this tournament because of the friendships that are formed from it.

“And of course the soccer was magnificent. I’m very proud of our kids. There was only one goal conceded in the entire tournament against very good opposition. It’s marvelous and we’re very proud of our boys and are very thankful to the people who made the tournament happen all the way around.”

Rogers High School Sports Zone was on hand to interview players, Lecerf and White, and the cable television show should air before the end of the month. The days and times will be posted on the UCC website and on the school’s Facebook and Twitter pages once they’re confirmed.

Here are some photos of UCC’s run through the tournament: