Vernon United opened the Thompson Okanagan Under 14 Boys Rep Soccer League season with a 1-1 draw against Kelowna United at Beasley Park in Lake Country Sunday morning.
Kelowna took an early lead at the 10-minute mark, but Lucas Ross tied it eight minutes later with a blast from 25 yards out on a free kick.
In the second half, Kelowna started to press, but the back line of Bryce Dyck, Jorden Dewing, Shayne Groeneveld, Chase Larsen and Jason Reich kept the Kelowna forwards at bay in front of keeper Cole Shoemaker.
Cameron Hitch, Lucas Ross, Cole Woodliffe and Kody Glinsbockel controlled the midfield for Mike Melbourne’s squad. Zac Kronbauer, Michael Williamson and Liam Ross had strong games at forward.
In U11 boys Rep action, the Vernon United #2 side came from behind twice in clipping Penticton Pinnacles #2 2-1 and earning a 3-2 win over Kelowna #1 at Kings Park in Penticton.
Dylan Kelly scored for Penticton in a first half which saw Vernon own the majority of play but fail to beat sturdy Penticton keeper Matthew Wilson. Joe Eggert and Perez Vermeulen replied for United in the final 10 minutes in front of Nick Mitchell.
Player of the Match for United was midfielder Dylan Huber, who set up both goals.
United, coached by Kevin Mitchell, then spotted Kelowna a 1-0 first-half margin before reeling off three straight goals. Eggert jumpstarted the comeback by drilling in a corner by Vermeulen.
Vermeulen, who was Player of the Match, buried a rocket a few minutes later, after a nice feed by Leon Schenker. Vermeulen made it 3-1 on a set up by CJ Storey.
Huber made some spectacular saves in net, while defender Kody Kongsdorf was stellar on the back line. Ben Purvis was superb up front and back.
The United #1, coached by Roy Cooper, made a dazzling comeback to tie 5-5 with Kamloops Orange before drawing 2-2 with Kelowna #3.
Game MVP Braeden Cooper went low through the keeper’s legs on a free kick from 10 yards out in the dying seconds as United erased a 5-0 halftime deficit under extremely windy conditions.
Adam Raber tapped in a rebound off a shot by Cooper for Vernon’s first goal, while Owen Miller connected on a pass by Steven Benischek.
Benischek converted a Cooper feed for United’s third goal, while Miller pulled Vernon within one after a big kick by Alex Oguunbiyi.
United defended much of the game versus Kelowna with Vernon keeper and game MVP Daniel Shwazwk making countless stops to keep it close. Oguunbiyi and Miller also scored for United.
The U12 Silver Star Mountain Lions #2 fell 4-2 to Kelowna #2 and lost 5-2 to Kelowna #3 in their season openers.
Vernon striker Malcolm Wiens struck first versus Kelowna #2 before visiting United gave up two goals in each half.
“We saw some good moments with good passing and combinations, but Kelowna was the more aggressive team,” said Vernon coach Will Wiens.
Forward Matthew Kowalski scored an outstanding goal in the second game, receiving the ball from keeper Liam Hennig and burying a low shot.
Central midfielder Morgan Nichols scored a penalty kick after a handball by a Kelowna defender on a high shot by Nichols. Vernon defenders Wyatt Carter and Jason Shaigec had very strong games, and Langdon Kersey was game MVP with some excellent work on the left wing, according to coaches Wiens and Erick Burnet.
The U12 Silver Star Mountain Lions #1 fell to 7-5 to Kelowna #1 and 3-1 to Kelowna #3.
Kelowna #1 reeled off five goals in the opening 10 minutes before Charis Ondrik replied for the Mountain Lions. Ondrik collected the ball from a turnover just outside of the 18-yard area before hammering a shot into the top corner.
The Lions scored again with four minutes left in the half when Jared Quibell took a Sam Eggert pass and buried a shot to the left side. Kelowna then knotted a goal with only seconds left to make it 6-2 at the half.
“The boys were definitely down, but coach (Rob) Eggert and I told the kids that despite the score, they were the better team,” said Lions’ coach Rolf Hirschkorn.
The break seemed to rejuvenate the Mountain Lions as they scored two minutes into the second half when Mees Geelkerken scored off an Elias Jensen free kick. Geelkerken trapped the ball just outside of the six-yard box and coolly slipped the ball into the far side of the net.
Geelkerken notched his second marker in the 39th minute after running onto a through ball from Ondrik and unloading from just inside of the 18.
The Mountain Lions pulled to within one when Jensen collected an Eggert through ball about 25 yards out and slotted the ball into the left side of the net.
“It was a great first effort for the kids overall,” said coach Eggert. “There was some really great passing and team play and it give us a great foundation from which to go forward.”
In their second match of the day, the Mountain Lions quickly fell behind 1-0 after Kelowna #3 rang an intended cross off the far post into the back of the net.
Jensen then equalized in the 17th minute after Quibell crossed the ball in from the left side of the pitch. Jensen collected the ball and unleashed a laser to the top left corner from about 16 yards out.
Reed Cashato and Peter Hirschkorn did a great job of stifling the Kelowna attack down the middle and left side of the pitch respectively. Silver Star keeper Shane Pelkey made several key saves in the first half to keep the score 1-1.
Kelowna scored twice in the last 15 minutes to seal the win. Chris Richardson was awarded the Man of the Match, for playing hard despite having two strained thigh muscles.
The United Rep U16 girls opened with a huge pair of wins in Vernon, stopping Salmon Arm 2-0 and clipping the Kamloops Blaze 1-0.
Tessa Coulthard scored unassisted off a free kick, while Kate Alexander, assisted by Kayla Marritt, nudged one in during the second half, giving Vernon the win Saturday.
In Sunday action, Kayla Marritt, getting some help from a Kamloops defender, scored the only goal of the game. The Vernon girls showed great defence all weekend with Brianna Thalheimer, Danika Damini, Megan Prentice and Kendall Tomiak supporting keeper Candice Lipski.
In U18 girls play, Vernon bowed 2-1 to Salmon Arm Saturday at MacDonald Park and fell 2-0 to the Kamloops Blazers Sunday at Marshall Field.
Jasmine Whitling scored on a penalty kick awarded when Ashley Krause was pulled down inside the 18 Saturday. Coach Ron Krause praised his back four of Amanda Wallace, Katelyn Dyck, Kirsty Lewis and Amanda Sakamoto for solid outings.
Whitling, at centre midfield, earned game MVP against Kamloops.