Riddled with injuries to key players, the Vernon Hi-Pro Sportswear Camels looked to their keeper Dave Dutcher for a boost against Okanagan Spring Brewery Monday night at Marshall Field #2.
Dutcher even got the vote from the Brewers for the Baconator Man of the Match as the Camels hung on for a 1-0 victory in Okanagan Oldtimers 45+ Soccer League quarterfinal action.
Former Vancouver Whitecaps Reserve striker Mike Lloyd was stoned twice by Dutcher in the first half. Dutcher dove like he was auditioning for Cirque du Soleil to get his fingertips on a Lloyd free-kick corker over the wall and headed for the top shelf.
“That was an unbelievable save,” said Humpbacks’ veteran Ron Krause. “Dutch was on his game. We couldn’t get on track in the second half when they had (defender Jeff) Vest moving up and looking for the tying goal.”
The lean and mean Dutcher, who can bench press 75 pounds, then used quick reflexes to stop Lloyd’s low shot from the side of the net.
Spring coach Akbal Mund said “It was a terrific match to watch with many scoring opportunities, great physical play, excellent refereeing by Mark Hopkins and his linesmen, and great saves by Pete (The Heat) Richter and Dutcher.”
Midfielder Chris Reeves, who missed most of the season with the seventh-place Spring, Bob Fleming, Lloyd and Vest pressed hard for the equalizer in the second half but couldn’t find the net.
Gord Howard, without his injured mates Mike Daly and Rick Raber, scored in the 20th minute off a 30-yard howitzer top corner after a feed by Dan Zieske, who played a stellar match.
The second-place Camels will now meet the third-place North Country Appraisals Kickers in Monday’s semifinals.
North Country doubled the Silver Stars 4-2 at Mission #73 Sports Park, jumping out to a 3-0 lead at the half on two goals by Wil Kruiper and one by Fritz Berenyi.
Art Renaud replied for the sixth-place Stars 15 minutes into the second half on a low free kick from 30 yards which fooled keeper Marty Vince.
Greg Bevandick scored an insurance goal for the Kickers 10 minutes later.
Rob Bauml of the Stars took on two defenders while flicking in a cross by Mark DeVolder just before the final whistle.
Fifth-place Salmon Arm upset fourth-place Penticton United 2-0 at Beasley Park in Lake Country, while league champion Kelowna IGA cruised past eighth-place Pushor Mitchell 7-0 at Mission #71.
Several yellow cards were issued in a tense battle between Penticton and Salmon Arm. Dave Howe opened the scoring with a left-foot cracker from 35 yards out into the top left corner on a setup from Jeff Abbott midway though the first half.
Abbott set up the second goal midway though the second half after juking and jiving and dishing off to Jonathan Bugden, who buried it in the low right side.
Salmon Arm had a few more close in chances that would have put the game away sooner. Keeper Allen Bensmiller had a relatively quiet night, turning away one shot and watching another hit the cross bar.
Salmon Arm will now meet IGA in the other semifinal Monday.
Phil Andrews (2), Randy Bartnick, Colin Burton, Tony Gonzales, Russ Hamer and Darryl Hazell secured IGA’s place in the semifinal round.
On the consolation side, Lake Country shaded the Big O Tire Ogopogos 3-2 at Marshall #5.
Big O took a 2-0 lead on goals by Gary Dill, set up nicely by Mike Powell and Mark Wasylyk.
Lake Country came back with two goals by Paul Charlton and a single by Mike Siemens.
In 35+ league action, the Vernon Square Liquor Store Celtics lost 1-0 to Kelowna’s Fountain Tire in an entertaining match at Rutland Sports Park.
Fountain Tire dominated possession for most of the game but the chances in front of the nets were equally spread.
The lone goal was scored early in the second half when slack marking gave away an open opportunity for the 9-8-3 Tiremen to fire home from the 16-yard box. Until then, the Celtics were kept into the game by strong performances from keeper Chris Bader and sweeper Jason Beck.
With 15 minutes to go, Celtics’ coach Kai Tolpinreed added an extra forward in a push for the equalizer. The switch resulted in a handful of opportunities but the net was not to be found.
The result leaves the 8-10-2 Celtics with a tough play-off draw against defending champion Penticton Pinnacles Saturday afternoon at Beasley.