Vernon Tolko United earned a drama-jammed bronze medal in the U13 Boys Division of the Les Sinnott Provincial B Soccer Cup Championships Sunday at Marshall Field.
And while the 2-1 overtime win over the South Burnaby Spartans was sweet, the Vernon crew earned major props from BC Soccer and North Okanagan Youth Soccer Association (NOYSA) officials for consoling the distraught Spartans in between hugging and high-fiving one another.
This U13 team has played with respect the whole season but they truly demonstrated the highest level of sportsmanship by consoling the devastated Spartan players that were collapsed in defeat on the ground after the whistle,” said NOYSA head coach David Broadhurst. “Our boys not only put pride in the hearts of their biggest fans but it was also recognized by our association and BC Soccer as the epitome of respect and class, and we are so proud of these boys.”
After being undefeated the first two days of the tournament, United boys lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Chilliwack Attack Saturday afternoon.
Justin Ruscheinsky and Jonathan Fraser-Monroe shared keeper duties. Vernon was maintaining possession before a bad bounce put Chilliwack on the board. The Attack then played an ultra-defensive style to preserve things.
Hungry for redemption, the Vernon U13s played with heart and tenacity against South Burnaby.
Carter Leahy sent a cross pass to Owen Challen, who converted within 10 minutes of the recess.
The defensive line of Marcus Petersen, Liam Collins and Alex Kazimer were an unwavering wall, while strikers Cash Anderson, Marcus Erho and Landon Janke were a force in the front, keeping the Spartans’ defence working extra hard.
Late in the second half, the Spartans took advantage of a long ball pass and equalized. Justin Arsenault and Kolby Thorpe drove up the wing while Alexander Jones, Cam Acob, Zach Loland and Levi Koroll worked tirelessly in the midfield to battle through the rest of the half. Jonah Strachan and Tate Garrod played a variety of positions helping United hold onto the tie which put the game into overtime.
The boys played a pair of 10-minute overtime periods with Petersen connected on a free kick from high in the Spartans’ end. The keeper got a touch, but the ball went in to put United ahead 2-1 in the first extra session.
Vernon stayed strong and a call at eight minutes of the second OT period, Ruscheinsky faced a direct penalty kick and made a dazzling save.
United, coached by Simon Challen, Cliff Acob and Jason Kazimer, have had a stellar year and are hungry to get back to the provincials in 2018.
The Saanich Fusion pocketed the U13s gold medal with Chilliwack striking silver.
The Vernon U15s lost 5-2 to the Coquitlam Eagles Sunday to finish at 1-3.
After a 4-0 blanking of the Williams Lake Storm Friday, United went into Saturday’s match versus the Powell River Panthers with real self belief and played hard in a 3-2 loss.
It was 2-0 Panthers before Luc Jones directed a well hit long-range blast top cheese for United. William Oordt-Bosman then levelled the score off a fray in front. Powell River netted the winner in the final seconds.
James Meeks was marvellous for Vernon playing in an unusual position in central fullback, where he defended with strength and accuracy. Saul Saunders, who earned the shutout against Williams Lake, produced some extremely difficult saves and kept Vernon in the tilt all day.
Vernon fell behind 5-0 to Coquitlam Eagles at the half Sunday, but refused to surrender and registered two beauty goals in the dying minutes.
The first was a corner by the tenacious Justin Brunton off an assist from Josh McKeown and the second, which was clinically finished by McKeown, was disallowed by the referee following a controversial offside call by the linesman.
Vernon U14s lost 3-1 to the Prince George Timberwolves in their last game Sunday, ending up at 0-4.
Ashton Kamaryk recorded a gorgeous snipe after a great cross by Ronan Bedard. Prince Georfge tied things seven minutes later to end the half.
The T-wolves delivered the winner early in the final half and added insurance with a ball that bounced offa Vernon defender.
Vernon, who lost 6-0 to Wesburn of Burnaby in Saturday play, got plenty of chances by Ethan Greenan, Tanner Lapp, Owen Davis, Justin Russell, Quinn Soon, Dominic Peterson, Taylor Halloran and Cole Grevatt all tournament.
The back line of Mark Hesketh, Cole Ogasawara, Josiah Falk, Chris Reinhardt, Hakan Akkurt and Ty Bartel ran miles in support of keeper Gage Stoll. United was coached by Rick Ogasawara and Mike Stoll.