Masters move toward gold medal match

Okanagan squad wins fourth soccer match in a row at World Masters Games

The Okanagan Kickers are on a roll in New Zealand.

The Kickers won their fourth soccer game in a row at the Barfoot &Thompson World Masters Games in Auckland Thursday, scoring a 3-2 win over Balmain Academy of Australia.

The Kickers’ final round-robin game goes Saturday, against an Italian side, with only a win or tie needed to put the club into the gold medal game on Sunday against the Vancouver Islanders, who beat the Kickers in the opening game of the World Masters Games tournament.

The Kickers came out flying as Fritz Berenyi scored in his third consecutive game with a blast from 15 yards out in the second minute after receiving a pass from the midfield. Vernon’s Jen Huberts made it 2-0 only five minutes later with a shot from the left side after a passing combination with fellow Vernonites Jim Sparrow and Steve Coombs.

The local boys continued to press and were rewarded when Salmon Arm’s Nigel Clack converted a Simon Pendlebury pass from eight yards out after 16 minutes. Unfortunately complacency seemed to set in and the team took their foot off the gas, allowing the Aussies to get on the board with five minutes left in the first half by knocking in a header off a corner kick.

The Academy closed to within one at the stroke of half-time as they blasted a shot from the top of the 18 past the outstretched arms of goalie, Peter Butler.

The Kickers maintained most of the possession in the second half, but were unable to increase their lead. The best chance the team had in the second half was when Ron Krause blasted a shot toward the bottom left corner from 20 yards, for what looked to be a certain goal, only to be stopped by the diving Aussie keeper.

The team’s player/trainer, Vernon’s Erwin Schuur, was again kept busy tending to players scrapes as the artificial turf has taken its toll on the team. Pendlebury suffered a dislocated thumb in the second half after a tumble into a fence located only five feet from the sideline.

The Okanagan squad was coming off its poorest effort at the Games Wednesday, a 3-1 win over the Greast Western Blizzard, a combined Saskatchewan/Australia entry.

It was their poorest game at the Barfoot &Thompson World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand, but it was a win nonetheless for the Okanagan Kickers.

Pendlebury scored twice and Berenyi added the other marker. The game was tied 1-1 at the interval.

Vernon’s Dave Hampton is also on the squad.