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Tolko United off to provincials

Strike gold in Thompson-Okanagan U14 Boys Rep Soccer League
Alex Kazimer of Vernon Tolko United challenges a Kamloops Blaze opponent in U14 soccer play Sunday at MacDonald Parl. (Photo Submitted)

Vernon Tolko United have qualified for the Provincial Youth Soccer Under 14 Boys B Cup July 5-8 in Burnaby.

The Thompson-Okanagan regular-season champions brushed back the Kamloops Blaze 2-1 in Sunday’s gold-medal playoff match at MacDonald Park.

Justin Ruscheinsky and Jonathan Fraser-Monroe shared keeper duties solidly fronted by Rogan Campbell, Liam Collins and Alex Kazimer.

The Vernon boys came out strong from the opening whistle with Zach Loland and Cam Acob holding the midfield. Jonah Strachan, Carter Leahy and Owen Challen brought shot after shot against the Kamloops keeper, while Ronan Hinds and Justin Arsenault supported the onslaught staying strong on the wings.

Kamloops sent a high shot that just curved into the net at 10 minutes. Within three minutes, Alexander Jones recorded the equalizer on a hard shot from midfield. It was a 1-1 tie at the half.

Vernon pressed in the second half with Nick Noren and Landon Janke unleashing multiple shots on net. Cash Anderson and Marcus Erho supported the Vernon attack and three minutes into the second half, Jones converted the winner.

United gave props to Ed Hardy (NOYSA board member) who was on hand to distribute the gold and silver medals for the playdowns.

The Tolko United U15 Boys were upset 2-0 by Kamloops Blaze P in the semifinals at Kings Park in Penticton, but got some surprising news Monday and are in the provincials as a replacement for a Northern entry.

United, who placed one point behind first-place Penticton Pinnacles, stopped Kamloops in both regular-season meetings but gave up an early goal Sunday.

In the second half, Owen Davis was tripped by the Kamloops keeper in the box and earned a penalty shot. Ashton Komaryk took the PK but was denied just like Messi earlier in the World Cup that day. With a minute left, the Blaze headed in a corner.

United Tolko Coldstream Lumber U14 Girls clipped Kelowna United 3-2 in a thrilling double-overtime shootout before falling 2-1 to Kamloops at Kings Park.

The Coldstream crew attacked Kelowna hard early with Mya Robinson posting three shots on net in the opening five minutes before Skylee Sigurdson-Poirier joined the assault with a blast and a couple of beauty crosses to Robinson. Vernon kept pressing in the second half with pressure from Sigurdson-Poirier, Cali Garro and Robinson.

Jordyn Kisilevich made a textbook side dive to stop a penalty shot inside the box, and then another on a second penalty within seconds. She then delivered several saves to hold on to the scoreless tie going into overtime.

In the first overtime, Vernon defenders did a good job of keeping the ball in the Kelowna end with Emma Glasser feeding a beautiful cross in front of the net and Jessi Cleverley and Robinson recording stellar shots.

Nadia Nelson-Shah and Allie Maltman continued to force the ball upfield in the second overtime. Kisilevich sacrificed herself on yet another close-up penalty shot, snagging the shot and then another quick rebound. Kisilevich then faced a firing squad in a five-player shootout, even getting to take a shot on the Kelowna keeper. Glasser sunk the first Vernon goal with a low corner shot. Kelowna then evened it up. Robinson stepped up and finished another one in, but Kelowna tied it up again. Parents were on their feet, and as usual, Paige Maleska didn’t disappoint with a beautiful high shot for the winner.

The Blaze scored quickly in Game 2 Saturday with Kisilevich later registering a flying save on a penalty shot to keep Vernon in the game. United equalized on a high flyer from Sigurdson-Poirier, assisted by Kisilevich’s lofty goal kick.

Kamloops netted the late winner and Vernon had a goal waved off on a heartbreaking offside call.

The U12 United Vikettes were on both ends of 5-2 scores at McArthur Island Park on Sunday, bowing to the host Kamloops Blaze before toppling the Pinnacles.

In a 4-0 hole against Kamloops at the break, Vikettes’ coach Rob Cesario encouraged the girls to reset and challenge harder in the second half. Taking over the game, Vernon was rewarded when centre-back Lauren Cunningham flared a wide ball out for Jasmine Soon, and she broke around two defenders and cracked one in off the top corner from 22 yards.

Four minutes later, Ava Cesario found the range from the same spot, lacing a free kick high into the net.

In the Penticton match, the Vikettes trailed by one after another listless first half. The second again belonged to the girls in blue, as they pumped five past the Pinnacles’ keeper. First, Jennie Pereboom sent a penetrating throw into the penalty area for Soon to run on to and blast home. Then, Julia McLennan demonstrated some fine possession work along the end line and delivered the ball to the top of the box for Soon, who booted Vernon into the lead.

Next, Vikette keeper Davy Hornoi played a short ball for Rylee Mairs, who promptly drilled it up the middle to Cunningham. She swung a pass to Cesario, breaking on the left, and the fleet winger sizzled a shot over the helpless keeper. Not a minute later, Sophie Challen mesmerized the Penticton side, twisting and turning with the ball, before sending in Cunningham, who finished with a wallop. In the final minute, Challen and Cunningham combined again to set up Ella Garrod on outside right, and she cut it in from a tight angle.

The Tolko United U12 Boys Team Nice rang up two victories in a Sunday showdown with two Kelowna United teams at McArthur Island.

In Game 1 versus an undefeated Kelowna entry, Team Nice won 1-0 after a terrific run down the right flank by Liam Greenan, who put a low cross in front of the goal for Malakai Touch, who finished sweetly. The celebration on the VU bench registered a small blip on the local Richter scale.

United received dynamite defence from James Lockwood, Jeffrey Curtis, Ethan Nickoli and Luka Romero and Lyndon Carleton earned the clean sheet and Burger King Man of the Match.

In Game 2 vs a weaker Kelowna side, Vernon dominated the match and controlled the midfield thanks to Griffin Trickey, Greenan, Rylan Nadurak and Touch. Trickey, who played all 60 minutes and went end to end all day, had an exceptional showing.

Nadurak gave the Kelowna side a lesson in one-on-one situations and his quick dribbling skills and clinical finishing resulted in two Vernon goals. Nadurak narrowly missed converting the hat trick and he earned the ICBC Man of the Match honours.

Greenan also scored on another right-flank run and floated his shot over the keeper’s head. Kelowna counted two goals to make things interesting.

Vernon United U13 bowed 2-1 to Kamloops in semifinal action Saturday in Penticton.

Keeper Dillon Rinkel was forced into action early and made some tremendous saves to keep VU in the game keep it scoreless at the break.

Coaches Cliff Acob and Brad Donison produced the magic half-time formula and VU came out strong with Ethan Anderson dancing around two defenders, drawing in a third and feeding a hungry Kailen Russell who delivered a great finish.

Kamloops threw everything at the VU defence and the pressure paid off with the tying goal. The Blaze then swiped the ball at midfield and caught the United defence off guard for the late winner.

Vernon dispatched Kelowna United 5-0 in opening playoff action.

After a slow start, the Vernon midfield slowly took control when Anderson linked with Russell and Jerome Winter to present Jentezen Peterson with an opportunity from four yards which he narrowly missed.

The Kelowna keeper was the player of the game in the first half, pulling off some big stops to deny Russell, Peterson and Winter time and time again. With the VU midfield of Anderson, Russell and Josh Donison slowly taking control and feeding the forward line, led by Winter, Peterson, Rowan Calder, Matt Acob, Jonas McMeeking-Walsh and Chase Cederholm, it was only a matter of time before VU scored.

The speedy VU back line of Ti Johnston, Henry Routley, Hunter Schindell and Hayden Murphy along with Gavin Ingbrigtson, Blake Beaton and Joshua Mark made sure that Rinkel had plenty of time to read the latest updates of Fortnite. Vernon’s first goal came just before the half after a Murphy free kick was nodded on by Anderson, forcing a desperate clearance from Kelowna for a VU corner. Calder delivered a sweet cross which Russell picked up and buried.

Another inspired half time chat from the coaches had Vernon raring to get back on the field. However, Kelowna started the half by putting VU under immediate pressure which soon led to a great one-versus-one opportunity but Rinkel’s pace off the line forced the shot off the post and wide.

That prompted the VU defence to up their game and they shut down further chances, even going so far as to include Rinkel in some good ball movement out of the defensive end.

VU doubled their lead soon after with Murphy providing a through ball for Peterson who knocked in a gorgeous cross for a wide open Winter to finish. Peterson turn provider again when he put in a great ball across the goalmouth where Acob, waiting on the far post, pulled it back for a fine 25-yard finish by Murphy to make it 3-0.

Acob soon added further insurance when he popped in a loose ball after a Murphy corner. Murphy, the OK Diesel Man of the Match, then picked up a loose ball inside his own half and as the red of Kelowna parted before him, he ran the 50 yards unopposed to finish on another power shot.

Rogan Campbell of Vernon Tolko United defends a Kamloops Blaze ball carrier in Thompson-Okanagan U14 Boys soccer at MacDonald Park. (Photo Submitted)
Vernon’s Brooklyn Routley (right) and Phoebe Brooks of the Shuswap Selects go for a loose ball in Rep soccer playoffs at Kings Park in Penticton. (Mark Brett/Black Press)
Vernon Tolko United U15 keeper Brianna Li tips a shot off the crossbar in U15 Girls playoff action at Kings Park in Penticton. (Mark Brett/Black Press)