Okanagan athletes loving New Zealand

Okanagan athletes loving New Zealand

The Okanagan Kickers were 2-1 going into a Tuesday bye at the World Masters Games in New Zealand.

The Okanagan Kickers were 2-1 going into a Tuesday bye at the Barfoot & Thompson World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Kickers, with six Vernon players on their men’s 55+ soccer roster, shut down the Edmonton Strikers 2-0 Monday morning on goals by Jenne Huberts of Vernon and Fritz Berenyi of Kelowna. Pat Arnieri of Kelowna recorded the shutout.

“We seem to be getting stronger each game,” said Vernon winger Jim Sparrow, also joined by locals Ron Krause, Steve Coombs, Dave Hampton and Erv Schuur.

The Kickers changed to a 3-5-1-1 formation and controlled the ball in the midfield for most of the game. Berenyi outran the Edmonton defence and went around the keeper to slide in the ball from a sharp angle in the 20th minute after a pass from Lake Country’s Russell Hamer.

The domination continued for the Okanagan men and their attempts were rewarded when Krause chipped a 35-yard cross to Huberts, who headed the ball past the Edmonton keeper. Hampton had a stellar showing in the midfield.

The Kickers grounded Cosmos Wanganui of New Zealand 1-0 Sunday with Matt Cherrille of Kelowna scoring in the first half in support of Arnieri. Hamer drew the assist.

The second half had the New Zealanders barely crossing centre and the Kickers missing their opportunities.

The Kickers, who take on the Great Western Blizzard 55 of Canada/Australia in Wednesday morning play, fell 3-0 to the undefeated Vancouver Islanders in their Saturday opener.

“Despite a late night from the previous evening’s opening ceremonies, playing together for the first time and running on artificial turf, we started strong and had a couple of chances in the first 15 minutes,” said Krause. “The Islanders settled down and started to control the midfield and after a shot from 25 yards in the 25th minute, our defence got caught standing watching the rebound and the Islanders took a 1-0 lead at the half.”

The Islanders went up 2-0 on an own goal midway through the final half and increased pressure by the Kickers resulted in a quick counter-attack for a third tally with five minutes left, top shelf past the outstretched hands of Arnieri.

“We are off to ANZAC Day ceremonies (Australia, New Zealand Army Corps) now,” said Krause, after Game 1. “ANZAC Day is their Remembrance Day; they don’t have Nov. 11.”

The Kickers and Italy’s PFCB were tied for second place in the seven-team category. Those teams close preliminary play Saturday. Medal matches go Sunday.

In men’s 45+ fastball, High Road Construction/Rossinis Canada were 1-2 after losing 7-0 to New Zealand DF, featuring several former Black Sox national teamers.

Dale Ortman, Murray Caton, Keith Green, Darren Fidler and Jason Eckert are Vernon athletes with High Road, coached by Vernon’s Barry Lachuk. They battle the Whakatu Rebels of New Zealand Wednesday morning.

Highroad shut down Vernon’s Rich Haldane and Team Canada Diamond Kings of Grimsby, Ont. 2-0 and fell 6-4 to the New Zealand Krushers in previous games.

Eckert smacked a double, while Ortman and Caton provided the battery in the win over the Diamond Kings. Scotty Austin of Kamloops tossed a complete-game, three-hitter. Haldane only pitched two innings against his buddies and former teammates.

The Diamond Kings iced the Ladner Masters 3-0 and lost 9-0 to New Zealand DF in their other games.