The underdog Vernon Celtic took regular-season champion Penticton Pinnacles FC to penalty kicks before falling 3-2 (1-1) Monday night at Parkinson Sport Fields in Kelowna.
Penticton will meet Sturgeon Hall of Kelowna in the Okanagan Men’s 35+ Soccer League final next Monday night.
The Celtic just missed out on the championship game after a tight and fast paced game. Only Chris Ovens and Jesse Knight – who both had outstanding games – found the net from the penalty spot.
The Celtic surprisingly dominated most of the play in the first half and created the better chances to open the score.
The second half was more even and just when it looked like none of the teams were able to find a breakthrough, Penticton managed to open the score on a questionable free kick just outside the 16 yard box.
The goal was the interlude of a dramatic final 15 minutes. Celtic coach Kaj Tolpinrud added an extra striker and the move paid off right away when the confused Penticton defence could not get rid of the ball during a scramble. Eventually it was Chris Bader who managed to glide the ball into the net after a frantic effort.
Soon after, Celtic keeper Ryan Sharp made a spectacular save when the ball seemed to be chipped over his head into the goal. While Penticton was already celebrating, Sharp sprinted back and made an unreal sliding stop to keep the ball out.
On the other end, Kriss Yargeau’s shot under the crossbar was tipped just over by the fully outstretched Penticton keeper.
More drama followed when Penticton was awarded a penalty kick in the dying minutes of regulation. The shooter missed and a shootout had to decide the game. Sharp came close on all of Penticton’s shootout attempts.