Morning Star Staff
Brown Benefits of Kelowna edged host Penticton United 1-0 under sun-kissed skies Sunday to claim the Capri Insurance Men’s 45+ Soccer League playoff cup at Kings Park.
During the regular season, the two teams were so evenly matched that Browns only won the league title on goal difference on the last day after the teams finished with identical records, setting up one of the most exciting and dramatic finals in years.
Penticton came out strongly to start the match and were unlucky not to take the lead when Mike Beliveau’s rocket from 22 yards struck the corner of the crossbar and post but stayed out of the net.
Brown Benefits slowly grew into the game and almost scored when Darryl Hazell’s shot narrowly missed the net. The game became a classic midfield battle as the two teams fought for control in the centre of the park.
After the recess, the battle resumed with both teams generating some chances and drama ensued as the Brown’s Colin Burton was sent off by veteran referee Mike Vandeleest for dissent with 20 minutes remaining.
Sensing a chance to finish the game off, Penticton’s midfield combination of Beliveau, Zeke Pescada and Rob Dirksen turned up the heat on the Brown’s defence.
However, it was a counter attack by the depleted Browns that led to a free kick 25 yards from the Penticton goal. With 16 minutes left on the watch, Grant Campbell’s sweetly-struck free kick took a slight deflection off the end of the wall which caused the ball to curl in to the bottom corner, wrong footing keeper Tony Sheremata.
The final quarter of an hour could only be described as an onslaught by Penticton as they tried to level the match and nearly did but Beliveau’s shot somehow missed an empty net after a scramble in the box.
Brown Benefits’ keeper Steven Heiss then turned in his best performance of the season and made a series of six saves, including a tip over the bar from a deflection and two point-blank shots that he managed to parry away, to preserve the shutout.
After the match, Brown’s team captain and sponsor, Don Brown, named Heiss as the Man of the Match as the Kelowna squad raised the trophy for the league and playoff double.
“It was a very hard-fought game between two determined squads chasing victory,” said Darryl Hazell of Brown’s “Penticton missed some great opportunities by hitting the post and crossbar several times, but were mainly stopped by Brown’s keeper, Steve Heiss who played the game of his life.I thanked Penticton for being super hosts and serving us dinner afterwards. We appreciate their hard efforts on the field as well as their friendship off.”
Vernon’s Turn-Key Controls Ogopogos clipped the Kelowna Rented Mules 2-1 in the B Cup earlier Sunday in Penticton.
After Brad Conlin and Roland Riedstra missed glorious scoring chances in the early minutes, Turn-Key opened the scoring as Mark Wasyluk buried a pass from Rick Danyluk in tight.
The Mules quickly responded and grazed the outside of the net making it appear from some vantage points it was a goal. Pogo keeper Mike Moorlag then made a gorgeous save as he sprung out and wrestled the ball to the ground.
Danyluk shot the ball straight towards the Mule keeper from 15 yards out early in the final half.
Speedy John Garner received a glorious pass from Duane Dennis and went top cheddar, making it 2-0 Pogos.
Riedstra took a beautiful feed from Bryan Schenker but sent the ball over top of the net.
The Rented Mules answered the call a few minutes later and were awarded a penalty kick in the final seconds but the shot deflected off the crossbar and out of play.