Twelve players were all that were available for the Vernon United U15 Thompson Okanagan Youth Soccer League boy’s season opener against the Kamloops Blaze.
Twelve was all United need as they posted an impressive 5-2 win over the Blaze at Marshall Field Sunday
Vernon opened the scoring 19 minutess in when Malcolm Wiens converted a Charis Ondrik corner with a quality header that eluded the Kamloops keeper. Five minutes later Vernon added to its lead when Mees Geelkerken was sent in alone by Wiens. Geelkerken made no mistake slotting the ball home to the right side.
Kamloops had their opportunities but Harvey Pawsey was solid in the Vernon net.
The lone flaw in the first half came with 10 minutes remaining when a Kamloops attacker was allowed to get off a quality strike that found the back of the net.
After the break Vernon had solid defensive play against an opponent trying to get back into the game. The counterattack produced opportunities which Vernon capitalized on.
At 57 minutes Wiens restored the two-goal cushion, converting a perfectly weighted pass from Geelkerken. Five minutes later, Kevin Thibault intercepted a poor Kamloops clearing attempt and slammed home a rocket to the left side from 11 yards out.
In the 66th minute, Geelkerken benefited from some nice play on the wing by James Huntington, who dribbled through several defenders before laying off a perfect ball to Geelkerken who put it home just inside the post for his second of the match.
Kamloops got a late consolation a minute before the final whistle.
“It was nice for the team to start off with a win,” said U15 coach Rolf Hirschkorn.
“Last season we lost 6-2 to the same team to start the year, so it was great to give a little payback this year.”
Elias Jensen, Wyatt Carter, Gavin Mason, Ondrik and Thibault were solid in the midfield while Joshua Gray, Connor London and Peter Hirschkorn were a well-organized defensive core that allowed few quality chances and snuffed out the Kamloops attack. Pawsey made eight saves for the win.
“The boys played very well today,” added United coach Erick Burnet. “They moved the ball around well and supported each other offensively and defensively.”
The U15 boys play Shuswap this Sunday at Marshall. Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m.
U14 boys draw Kelowna
Vernon and Kelowna played to a scoreless draw in a battle of United teams on a crisp spring Saturday morning in Kelowna.
Kelowna brought some tall players but the Vernon crew returned the size difference with high efforts of skill.
Vernon keeper Ian Oliphant made some impressive saves to keep the game scoreless. Ben Purvis drove for the goal in the second half and, had the lofty Kelowna keeper’s extended reach not been there, the Vernon squad could have had a win under their belt.
Overall, Vernon had a better handle on playing a possession and passing game which kept them out of trouble.
Xander Sladen made some speedy dashes down the wing but the Kelowna defence managed to catch up and shut the shots down. Perez Vermeulen had some great rushes for the goal but Kelowna would get a foot on the ball and clear it back to Vernon’s defense.
Finn Plummer dug through the crowded midfield to send the ball forward time and time again keeping the pressure on the Kelowna squad.
Vernon’s defense of Trent Graham, Adam Raber, Jude Kronbauer, Noah Schneider and Danny Paskiewich kept the pressure on Kelowna and helped disable the shots on goal.
The next TOYSL game sees Vernon head to Penticton to face the Pinnacles Sunday, April 13.