Okanagan FC strikes U21 gold

Okanagan FC finished a glorious playoff run by grounding West Vancouver FC 3-1 in the Pacific Coast Soccer League Under 21 Men’s finals at Kings Park in Penticton.

Okanagan FC finished a glorious playoff run by grounding West Vancouver FC 3-1 in the Pacific Coast Soccer League Under 21 Men’s finals at Kings Park in Penticton.

With head coach David Broadhurst away in the U.K. for a month taking his UAFA ‘A’ licence, assistant John Farina of Vernon stepped in and guided the youthful Okanagan entry to the fourth and final playoff spot, and the league title.

“We were a very young squad, only having one player 21 years of age,” said Farina. “Most of the players are 17 or 18 so that made this an even better win.”

Enzo Paal, Austin Jones, Dexter James, Alex Farina, Brandon Enair and Fabrice Fanfani were Vernon products with Okanagan FC. Corey Wallis of Enderby was also on the roster.

Paal, who was named playoff MVP and led the league with 19 goals in 12 games, opened the offence in the final by sending a rocket from the top of the 18 past the keeper, inside post.

It was 1-0 Okanagan at the break, but West Vancouver came out flying in the second half and equalized on an early penalty kick.

“At that point I adjusted our formation to tighten up the middle of our midfield,” said Farina. “This seemed to give us the flow of the game back and we gained a possession advantage.”

About 20 minutes into the second half, Okanagan grabbed the lead on a close-in header by Jones set up by Paal.

Just 10 minutes later, Paal converted the insurance goal by heading in a cross.

“Again we had a strong performance from our back line of Corey Wallis, Jon Parnell, Austin Schneebli and Dexter James,” said Farina.

Okanagan FC brushed back league champion Coquitlam Metro Ford 2-1 in the semifinals.

Paal jumpstarted the offence on a penalty kick, awarded after Jones was taken down from behind in the box.

Coquitlam equalized before the first half was over, but the Okanagan came out strong in the second half and Robin Whitaker (U16 Y league player from Kelowna) scored on a 35-yard blast.

“The rest of the game was a hard-fought defensive battle, including our goalie Colin Hasick (Kelowna) stopping a penalty shot. I thought Colin and my two centrebacks, Jon Parnell and Corey Wallis, were standouts.”

 

With Farina coaching alone the last three league games, Okanagan FC earned a crucial 2-2 draw with Victoria (a loss would have eliminated them from the playoffs) and a 3-2 win over Chilliwack.