Funded entirely by supporter donations, the Plate, inspired by the famous Cascadia and Voyageurs Cups, was intended to honour and acknowledge the champion British Columbia club in the highest-level soccer league played in multiple British Columbia cities, the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (USL PDL). From its inception, the Juan de Fuca Plate was not tied to any specific league or teams: it is meant to be awarded to the strongest British Columbia team against its professional, provincial rivals.
The first match in the history of the Juan de Fuca Plate took place on May 13, 2012 at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, British Columbia between the Victoria Highlanders and the Vancouver Whitecaps U-23. Vancouver forward Long Tan scored the first goal in Juan de Fuca Plate history in the 40th minute on an assist from British Columbia native Carlos Marquez. The first British Columbian to score in the Juan de Fuca Plate did so in the second game on May 23, 2012, when Vancouver native Ben Fisk scored in the 31st minute for the Whitecaps against the Fraser Valley Mariners. The Plate itself made its first appearance July 8, 2012 in the match between the Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 and the Victoria Highlanders.
In the first year of the competition 3,514 fans visited five stadiums over the course of nine matches to watch Fraser Valley, Victoria, and Vancouver do battle for the Plate. When the Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 finally stood victorious at Swangard Stadium on July 11, 2012 before 203 fans, it was at the end of a tournament that saw 29 goals from 17 players, countless brilliant saves from six talented young Canadian goalkeepers, and a tournament that went down to the last minute.
The second year of the Juan de Fuca Plate was equally successful despite losing the Fraser Valley Mariners. Once again the Vancouver Whitecaps and Victoria Highlanders took each other to the last minute before Vancouver won in a competition marked by the superb play of British Columbian products Jordie Hughes, Michael Winter, and Niall Cousens as well as other western Canadians such as Brett Levis and Marco Carducci. It also saw the largest single-game attendance in Juan de Fuca Plate history, when 2,044 fans packed Royal Athletic Park to watch Victoria host Vancouver. With Vancouver's repeat victory Gagandeep Dosanjh, James Farenhorst, Cam Hundal, and Bobby Jhutty became the first two-time winners of the Juan de Fuca Plate.
In the Plate's third season Victoria finally claimed the crown after two years of heartbreak, defeating the Whitecaps U-23s 8-6 in a two-legged aggregate series. Once again new names etched themselves on Juan de Fuca Plate history, with Carlo Basso, Chris Serban, Wesley Barrett, and Cody Cook drawing notice for all the right reasons. Cam Hundal, now with Victoria, became the first three-time winner of the Juan de Fuca Plate.
3rd Juan de Fuca Plate (2014 USL PDL Season)
In 2014, the Vancouver Whitecaps U-23s and Victoria Highlanders would play a single, two-leg home-and-home series for the Juan de Fuca Plate, with both matches taking place in the first month of the PDL season. The classic cup format promised another season of excitement. Even player transactions had Plate ramifications: Victoria native and ex-Whitecaps U-23 star Cam Hundal had moved to his hometown Highlanders, joining former Whitecaps Residency midfielder Alex Rowley to reinforce a team that had come within an inch of glory in the 2013 Plate. Going the other way, 2013 Highlanders standout Brett Levis was now with the Whitecaps U-23s after a trial with the MLS squad late in the year.
The Plate kicked off May 4 at Victoria's Royal Athletic Park, where 1,412 braved unpredictable weather to see their hometown heroes grab a controversial victory. A rough, back-and-forth game saw the Whitecaps U-23s take two leads only to be almost immediately pegged back by the Highlanders. In the second minute of added time, Whitecaps goalkeeper (and Vancouver Island native) Nolan Wirth gave away a controversial penalty to Victoria's Carlo Basso. Riley O'Neill converted, and Victoria took the first leg edge 3-2. But Vancouver would have the hammer in the second leg, playing in the intimidating concrete confines of UBC Thunderbird Stadium where they had snatched the Plate from Victoria in 2013.
The rematch May 23 made an immediate mockery of home-field advantage. Victoria had a 3-0 lead nine minutes in, 6-2 on aggregate, as the Whitecaps U-23s seemed to collapse utterly. It looked like we were in for a rare Juan de Fuca Plate whitewash, but whether Victoria (who had a big league game the next day) took their feet off the gas or Vancouver had too much guts to give up, the debacle gradually turned into a soccer game. The Whitecaps got one back, conceded again, and over the last hour clawed back from 4-1 down to a 4-4 tie. They needed a two-goal win to take the Plate but they were going for it until, on 89', Blair Sturrock scored the goal he failed to get at UBC last season and guaranteed Victoria their first Juan de Fuca Plate with an 8-6 aggregate victory.
|Champion||Victoria Highlanders FC||Leading Scorer||Carlo Basso (VIC): 3|
|Captain||Tyler Hughes||Most Assists||Carlo Basso (VIC),|
|Head Coach||Steve Simonson||Reynold Stewart (VAN), and|
|Cam Stokes (VIC): 2|
|Most Clean Sheets||none|
|Sunday, May 4, 2014||Victoria Highlanders FC||3||Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23||2||Royal Athletic Park, Victoria|
|Basso 34', W. Barrett 84', O'Neill 90'||Cook 29', Musse 82'|
|Friday, May 23, 2014||Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23||4||Victoria Highlanders FC||5||Thunderbird Stadium, University Endowment Lands|
|Froese 20', Stewart 39', Cousens 49' 72'||Stokes 4', Ashlee 7', Basso 9' 34', Sturrock 89'|
|Victoria Highlanders FC win Juan de Fuca Plate 8-6 on aggregate|
2nd Juan de Fuca Plate (2013 USL PDL Season)
The departure of the Fraser Valley Mariners from the USL PDL after the 2012 season reduced the second Juan de Fuca Plate to two teams: the Victoria Highlanders and the Vancouver Whitecaps U-23s. However, anticipation for the derby remained high. The Highlanders were assembling maybe the strongest team in their history, under former Whitecaps staff coach Steve Simonson, while Vancouver's 2013 roster included 2011 PDL captain Derrick Bassi, former Czech professional Niall Cousens, and a handful of other names well-known in Lower Mainland soccer.
The 2013 Juan de Fuca Plate kicked off May 17 at the Whitecaps' new home at Thunderbird Stadium. Despite high expectations from the talented Whitecaps it was Victoria who shocked the Vancouver home crowd, playing a dominant second half and earning a fully deserved 3-2 road victory. But two weeks later the Whitecaps got revenge: on May 31 Vancouver went to Royal Athletic Park and took a stunning 5-3 win in what was called one of the best games of the season.
The two-goal win meant Vancouver would have the advantage on goal differential heading into the last game. The finale was almost a month later at Thunderbird Stadium, and on June 28 Vancouver hosted Victoria with everything on the line. Not just the Plate itself, but the game would be key for both teams' USL PDL playoff aspirations.
Former Highlander Sasa Plavsic scored the opening goal for the Whitecaps U-23s, but Victoria was the better team. Brett Levis, continuing a spectacular rookie season, scored the equalizer late in the first half, but in spite of a red card to Vancouver's Niall Cousens and repeated attacks from the Highlanders the score remained 1-1. With time running out Vancouver goalkeeper Marco Carducci made a remarkable double save off Jordie Hughes and Blair Sturrock, sealing the second Juan de Fuca Plate for the Vancouver Whitecaps U-23s in spectacular fashion.
|Champion||Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23||Leading Scorer||Niall Cousens (VAN) and|
|Captain||Derrick Bassi||Jordie Hughes (VIC): 4|
|Head Coach||Stuart Neely||Most Assists||Michael Winter (VAN): 2|
|Most Clean Sheets||none|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23||3||1||1||1||4||8||7|
|Victoria Highlanders FC||3||1||1||1||4||7||8|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 win Juan de Fuca Plate over Victoria Highlanders FC on goal differential (+1)|
Inaugural Juan de Fuca Plate (2012 USL PDL Season)
The first ever Juan de Fuca Plate began on May 13, 2012 at Royal Athletic Park when the Victoria Highlanders and Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 renewed acquaintances in the Salish Sea Derby. The plate itself was far from ready, but the competition was still hot, as the Highlanders and Whitecaps battled to a 1-1 draw in front of 1,172 fans including a sizeable contingent of traveling Vancouver Southsiders. Vancouver's Long Tan became the answer to the trivia question in the 40th minute when he scored the first goal in Juan de Fuca Plate history, while Yellowknife's Craig Gorman replied for Victoria minutes later.
From the start, Victoria and Vancouver established themselves as the class of the 2012 competition as the Fraser Valley Mariners suffered through a catastrophic season in spite of a promising 2011. Both Vancouver and Victoria beat Fraser Valley by identical 4-0 scores at home, while the Mariners improved to merely suffer a 2-0 loss to Victoria at Abbotsford's Bateman Park on June 3. Another 4-0 loss at home to Vancouver followed, and it wasn't until July that Fraser Valley was able to give one of their rivals a fright when they dragged Victoria through 90 minutes of scoreless soccer before losing a heartbreaker in stoppage time on a goal from former Mariners star Sasa Plavsic.
In the key Victoria - Vancouver rematch at Royal Athletic Park on June 9, the Whitecaps U-23s emerged with an essential 4-2 win that featured four goals in the last twenty minutes, three from Vancouver: Jared Stephens scored a stoppage-time marker to pull Victoria within 3-2 but, with the game essentially over, 16-year-old Kianz Froese capitalized on a lapse in the Highlanders defense to score Vancouver's fourth goal.
The third match between Victoria and Vancouver at Richmond's Minoru Park on July 8 saw the first appearance of the Juan de Fuca Plate, as the Whitecaps U-23 would have clinched the title with a win or a draw. But Victoria did not go gently into that good night: Ash Burbeary scored a brace and would have had a hat trick but for the crossbar, and while University of Victoria star Cam Hundal responded for the Whitecaps it wasn't enough to prevent a 2-1 Victoria win. The Whitecaps had to beat Fraser Valley to win the Plate; any other result and Victoria would be the first champions.
In the final game, Fraser Valley brought their best form of the season to Vancouver's spiritual home of Swangard Stadium. For the first time in the Juan de Fuca Plate Fraser Valley actually took a 1-0 lead through Justin Isidro, holding it through the eighty minute mark and raising the hopes of the traveling Victoria contingent. But just as the Highlanders faithful had one hand on the trophy Vancouver fought back, with Hundal and Whitecaps U-23 captain Gagandeep Dosanjh scoring within three minutes of each other to hand Vancouver a 2-1 victory and, after a tremendous fight, the Juan de Fuca Plate.
|Champion||Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23||Leading Scorer||Craig Gorman (VIC): 4|
|Captain||Gagandeep Dosanjh||Most Assists||Jordie Hughes (VIC): 3|
|Head Coach||Craig Dalrymple||Most Clean Sheets||Elliott Mitrou (VIC): 3|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23||6||4||1||1||13||16||6|
|Victoria Highlanders FC||6||4||1||1||13||12||6|
|Fraser Valley Mariners FC||6||0||0||6||0||1||17|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 win Juan de Fuca Plate over Victoria Highlanders FC on goal differential between tied teams (+1)|