It was a classic showdown between the heavyweights in the Okanagan Oldtimers 45+ Soccer League Monday night at Kettle Valley Park in Kelowna.
The regular-season champion Kelowna IGA capped an undefeated campaign by drawing 2-2 with the second-place Vernon Hi-Pro Sportswear Camels in what many figure was a playoff final preview.
IGA (20-0-2) opened the scoring with a Lionel Hoffman goal in the 10th minute. Camels’ defender John Gardner lost the corner ball in the sun and it struck him in the chest. Hoffman buried the loose ball from gimme range.
The Humpbacks, who were missing four key starters, equalized 10 minutes later when defender Rob Parkin one-touched a Rob Hulstein corner at the side of the 18 and nailed a howitzer far corner for the goal of the match.
The Camels went up in the 32nd minute when Al Betton converted a supreme chip over the keeper’s head after a series of one-touch passes involving Gord Howard, Hulstein and Ken Kranenborg.
Geoff Greenwell blazed a shot past Camels’ keeper Dave Dutcher from six yards after a great Jim Kruiper feed to equalize in the 70th minute.
IGA had several chances to finish off the game, including a missed penalty kick by Kruiper with Dutcher diving right to get a hand on the shot.
Gardner and fellow defender Jim Mottus both stuck out their legs to stop shots from close range, while Dutcher made three or four stops on a wild scramble which ended with Dutcher taking a corker in the stomach and rolling over.
Dutcher earned the Ramshorn Pub Man of the Match for the 17-3-2 Camels, who open the playoffs Monday night against seventh-place Okanagan Spring.
Wendy’s Baconator Man of the Match Mike Lloyd scored twice and set up two others as Okanagan Spring bounced Pushor Mitchell 5-2 at Marshall Field #5.
Three minutes in, Bob Fleming set up Lloyd, who found the top corner of the net. Jeff Vest clicked on a penalty kick three minutes later after Lloyd was taken down in the box.
Early in the second half, Tom Ouchi made it 3-0 from Lloyd, and then Lloyd scored from Denis Chabot. Ouchi got his second of the game to make it 5-0 with 15 minutes left.
Steve Fitzpatrick earned the Newcastle Brown Ale Man of the Match with two goals as Silver Stars toppled the Rutland Spirit 3-1 at Marshall #2.
New English striker Gary Saunders found himself all alone at the 25-yard line with the Rutland keeper Dave Gould off his line and he looped a shot under the crossbar and in after just 20 seconds had elapsed.
Saunders injured his groin a few minutes later and headed home.
Three minutes later, Fitzpatrick turned and tucked a shot short side from the 18.
Seven minutes later, Fitzpatrick riverdanced around a few defenders and fooled Gould with a cheeky chip shot to make it 3-0.
Rutland scored early in the second half on a penalty shot, awarded when Fitzpatrick pulled down a Spirit player. Keeper Ted Lurkins got his fingertips on the attempt.
Later in the half, Fitzpatrick sent a poor back pass to Lurkins, who pulled the onrushing Spirit striker down by the leg and then made a dazzling back heel save to deflect the penalty shot over the bar.
Big O Tire Ogopogos just missed securing the eighth and final playoff spot by falling 1-0 to Brandt’s Creek Pub at Parkinson 16 Field.
Big O keeper Paul Hunter stopped two of three penalty kicks to earn the Longhorn Man of the Match.
Brandt’s Creek and Big O both finished at 8-12-2.
Greg Bevandick and Fritz Berenyi each pulled hat-tricks as North Country Appraisals Kickers crushed Cantina’s 8-2 in Rutland.
Sirius strikes late
In 35+ men’s play, the Vernon Square Liqour Store Celtics bowed 2-1 to Kelowna Sirius FC at Mission 74 Sports Field.
The fast-paced game seemed destined to end in a draw when miscommunication in Vernon’s defence allowed Sirius (11-5-3) to score the winning goal in the final second of the game.
The first half was well balanced with both teams finding it hard to create chances. The 8-9-2 Celtics’ defence was outstanding with Burger King Man-of-the-Match Ryan Leibel clearing everything that came close to the 18-yard box.
The second half continued on the same note until the Kelowna referee rewarded a penalty kick to Sirius after their forward Morgan Marss tangled with Celtics’ Jason Beck. Sirius converted the penalty but a minute later the Celtics equalized when Kriss Yargeau controlled the ball in midfield and despite a melee of opponents, managed to send a through ball to Bryan Schenker.
Schenker made no mistake in front of the goal and recorded his 25th of the season.
The result leaves the Celtics in a must-win situation next week for a playoff fixture.
Host Salmon Arm shut down Vernon’s Bosman Accounting 2-0, scoring off a free kick and a long shot that accidentally landed in the back of the net.
The Bosman defensive line with Shawn Wiebe, Greg Sol, Mike Gilman and anchor Nathan Bartel had a strong game in front of a solid keeper Guy Paulsen.