Vernon’s U13 United FC boys finished in second place at the Shuswap Shore and Score Christmas Tournament on Saturday.
Playing three games throughout the event, the first saw a 3-3 tie against Kamloops. It was a back and forth battle with many chances on both ends. Ethan Nickoli played outstanding in goal and played as more of a centre sweeper clearing the Kamloops attack and preventing shooting opportunities.
Thomas Nice, Cole Kopera and Jake Blankely all converted with Blankely marking his first United goal. Blankely was versatile throughout the tournament and his tight dribbling skills allowed him to river dance through the Kamloops back line and clinically finish into the top right corner.
In game two, the team was up against Penticton. VU dominated possession and outshot Penticton 16 to 1. However, Penticton got their lone goal early in the first half on a miscue from the VU defence and led most of the game. Griffin Trickey slotted the game-tying goal in stoppage time to salvage the single point and keep Vernon’s hopes alive for the finals. Jessiah Wadsworth’s relentless pressure forced several turnovers with breakaway chances that he just couldn’t finish. Unfortunately, several great chances from Jeffrey Curtis and James Lockwood were brushed aside by the Penticton keeper.
In the finals, Vernon needed maximum points to win gold and played an outstanding game vs the hosts Shuswap FC. VU got off to an early lead with Rylan Nadurak smashing in two top class goals and stunning the home crowd. Thomas Nice added a third goal to the score but the boys needed a clean sheet to win. Shuswap scored twice and the 3-2 win earned the team the Silver medal. Coaches also want to acknowledge the excellent defending by Dane Beaton, Ethan Nickoli and Spencer Elder throughout the tournament.
The team’s next competition, the Shuswap tournament, is only a few weeks away and the players will start preparing this weekend.
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