They win half their games in the North Okanagan Women’s Soccer Association Masters Division and then stick around for a soda and fellowship.
Nobody has more fun than the Vernon Controllers, who are taking their act to the World Masters Games, Aug. 2-11, in Torino, Italy.
Coached by the zany Doug Macdonald, the Controllers wore toques and waved Canadian flags for a team picture Tuesday night at Marshall Field. The headgear was in honour of Torino hosting the 2006 Winter Olympics.
The weather in northern Italy will be similar to the Okanagan and the Controllers will play their best, shake hands with a smile and get up close and personal with the country.
Torino, a city of 900,000, is well known as the home of the Shroud of Turin, the football teams Juventus F.C. and Torino F.C. and the headquarters of automobile manufacturers FIAT, Lancia and Alfa Romeo.
“We come out to have fun, not necessarily to compete but it’s just a great group of ladies,” said Controller veteran Valerie Percy. “It’s a good night of fitness, laughs and bevvies afterwards are always fun. We’re looking forward to the wine, the pasta, the chocolate, George Clooney.
“It could be the extra-curricular what we’re looking forward to.”
Veteran Jody Pope said the team has done two years of fundraising, working the youth soccer concession on weekends and filling shifts at Funtastic.
“We’ve manned our whole team except for one player (Jodi Hawthorne from Longhorn Impact) we’ve pulled from another team,” said Pope. “A lot wanted to go so we really tried to accommodate with the age group and stuff so we’re playing a little bit younger than most of us.”
The Controllers are in a 40+ pool which includes local rival NOU and a Fraser Valley entry. Pope said it was easy getting a roster for the trek.
“Number one, it’s a great group of girls and we’ve been playing hard and I just threw it out there. ‘Anybody else interested in this?’ And they jumped. Italy, of course.”
Some spouses will meet the team near the end of the trip and some of the ladies will check out other parts of Europe after the Games. The soccer will be played at turf stadiums and the teams will have access to free trains and loads of tours during their off-days.
Percy and Pope both praised Macdonald for going the extra mile for the ladies.
“Passionate, goofy, devoted,” said Percy, when asked about her coach. “He was at the fundraising every weekend from start to finish so he’s really a big part of our team and getting us together.”
Macdonald figures the Controllers were too giddy as they tried on their new jerseys minutes before falling 5-1 to TED United of Salmon Arm.
“The ladies had other things on their mind this night as most of them play their final league game on Friday, pack and head for Italy,” said Macdonald.
United took full advantage, pumping in three goals in the first 12 minutes and added two more before the half. Jenny Currie knocked home a penalty kick after being crunched by the United keeper on a breakaway.
The Controllers (8-9-1) received exchange gifts for the Masters Games from Predator Ridge, Silver Star Mountain, Back to Earth, Tolko Industries, Interior Logging Association and the offices of MLA Eric Foster and MP Colin Mayes.
Meanwhile, the Longhorn Impact mauled the Shuswap Merlot 5-0 in Masters play in Salmon Arm.
Minda Chittenden had the game of the season for the 19-0 Impact, scoring once on a beautiful shot from outside the 18 and running miles.
Striker Myra McEwan, a Kelowna product who stopped in on her way back to her other home in Calgary, pulled yet another hat trick, while Hawthorne connected on a wicked free kick.
Vel Beaumont and Heather Findlay were tireless all night for the Longhorn, while Vicky Ryan came off the reserve list and made an impressive impact as stopper. Derri Ann Cooper earned the shutout. The Merlot dipped to 3-9-3.
The Chick Kickers got a dynamic deuce from Target Lady of the Match Jenny Garnett in a 6-0 win over Goplen Drillers at Marshall #1.
Michelle Johnson and Shauna Duncan-Stenquist assisted on Garnett’s snipes. Mel Jacobs mirrored Garnett by providing the next two goals, both from feeds by Johnson.
In the second half, Crystal Bergman capitalized on a free-from-defence moment to score from outside of the 18, while the normally defensive Wendy Magnus chipped in a beauty to finish the scoring. Jacobs and Marilyn VanderDeen shared the shutout.
“Wendy Martens played an exceptional last game with the Chick Kickers as she continued to provide strength and consistency on and off the field,” said Jacobs. Martens, her husband Brad, and children are moving to the Coast and will be missed by everyone.”
NOU, with several starters already in Europe, bowed 4-1 to host Shuswap Kaos. Carla Gibson buried a penalty kick, awarded after a hand ball on a shot by Teresa Collins. Karen Semph did a great job in goal as NOU (5-7-6) played with nine.
In Division 1 action, Dr. Lee’s Dental, playing with no subs in the extreme heat, managed to squeak out a 1-0 win over the ever-improving Wrap Zone at Marshall #5.
After dominating the first half, the Floss crew (12-2-1) got a lucky goal off an Ally Dodds corner which bounced off Jacquie Hansen into the net.
Winless Wrap Zone played hard in the second half, but were thwarted by keeper Lisa Arrotta on several chances.
Okanagan Spring Lady of the Match Stephanie Wilson was stellar in the midfield for Dr. Lee, and the defensive line of Loren Brunelle, Cindy Worth and Irene Arrotta turned back the Wrap Zone assault.
The North Enderby Timber Celtics scraped out a 1-0 win over the injury-riddled Little Tex Outlaws (8-2-5) at Marshall #4.
Celtics’ keeper Charmaine Biagioni reeled off three game-saving stops and had booming drop kicks to keep the Outlaws’ defence on their heels.
After multiple failed attempts with 12 minutes left, U.S. collegiate star Paige Doherty slipped a shot past Texan keeper Eileen Fox, who had a marvellous last game as she heads off to enjoy her pregnancy. Doherty wheeled her way into the box to outmuscle a defender on a challenge, leaving just Fox to beat.
Steph Conti, Jasmine Whitling, Monica Neilson and Stacey Cover controlled the Texans’ back line in a defensive game against the 7-6-2 Celtics.
Toren Huntley was dynamic for Little Tex (8-2-5) in the centre midfield, slipping back into her natural position after running tirelessly on the wing with Lisa Stewart and Brianna Ostafie.
Forward Maria Thorlakson pushed through the Celtics’ offside trap, causing a continual headache for the green backs and keeper. Both teams drew a red card after a violent play in the second half.
The AF Blazers fell 4-3 to Glenn Power Contracting of Salmon Arm at Marshall #3.
Ali Clarke opened the scoring by collecting a drop kick from keeper Katie Hatten and going in on a partial breakaway, deking through the defence.
Salmon Arm then netted two goals before the half. Amber Maltman, Jenny Hatten and Shelby Price worked tirelessly on defence to shut down the speedy 6-5-4 Glenn Power forwards.
In the second half, the Blazers (5-8-2) gave up an early goal before Clarke converted a pass from Hailey Woon. Woon then pocketed her ninth of the season to level the score. The Blazers gave up a late goal to concede the win.
Clarke and Shantell Hayhurst had several great runs up the wings and set up numerous chances, but failed to convert.
Midfielders Janna Cumming, Holly Wylie and Nicole Stensrude moved the ball well and played strong two-way games.
Rosters shaded the shortstaffed Setters Pub 2-1 in the sweltering Salmon Arm heat as Becky McLennan and Lisa Fogel combined for the Rosters’ goals, the first coming from a sweet pass from Fogel in the middle right onto McLennan’s left foot.
Setters answered back immediately and it was a hard fought game up and down the field with great efforts by Felicia Musa, Marissa Weibe, Denise Bateman, Daralee Morris and Marianne DeFoor. Rosters (2-9-4) got the winner early in the second half with a cross from McLennan to Fogel, who danced around a player and finished beautifully.