Three Vernon United girls Rep teams will play in the B.C. Challenge Cup Rep Soccer Championships, July 3-6, in Chilliwack.
The U14s capped an undefeated season with two wins in the Thompson Okanagan playdowns in Penticton, grounding the Kamloops Blaze 7-1 in Sunday’s final at Kings Park in Penticton.
“Other than a 20 minute stretch in the first half, of the final game, the girls were solid right through the team,” said United head coach Al Gee.
Vernon opened the playoffs by shutting out the host Pinnacles 6-0 Saturday afternoon.
Mason Christensen scored four times in the final, while Alyssa Racine, Dannika Roy and an own goal completed the Vernon offence. Shauna Bradley was solid in recording both clean sheets. Roy worked tirelessly down the wing, providing great service into the box.
Christensen (3), Jai Sidhu (2) and Kalli Hamilton-Gee handled the attack versus Penticton.
Added coach Gee, assisted by Lee Christensen: “The girls should really be proud of their season. They have been on the field since last October and their commitment really showed this weekend.
“On any given day, we can single out the play of two or three kids but that is not our story. We are where we are today because of our commitment to the team. We have had other coaches ask us if we are running a hockey team because we literally make line changes every 10-15 min. Every player on our team is essential to our success regardless of whether or not their name shows up on the goal scorers list.”
The U14s have a tournament in Calgary before heading to provincials.
Under 13s surprise Kelowna in final
Vernon U13 girls surprised regular-season champion Kelowna United 3-1 in Sunday’s final.
Keeper Elena Yablonski was kept busy from the start with good forward pressure from Kelowna.
The back line fed the ball up to Danica Ariano, who fed Mira Szudek, who went in alone but shot wide. Another feed by Megan Sherwood up to Emilia Durfeld landed the ball on Szudek’s foot again but her shot just missed.
With seconds left in the first half, Elena Gaskell charged the left side and a short cross near the goal line ended up in the Kelowna net courtesy of the Kelowna keeper.
Kelowna pressured early in the second half with Yablonski, Talia Quiring and Gabby Triggs fending off the forward line and returing the ball to midfield where Jayden Strachan and Kelsey Falk pressured Kelowna up the field. With three minutes to go in the half, Kelowna sped to the net on a through ball. Yablonski stopped the shot but the rebound settled behind her in the net. Regulation ended 1-1.
In the first 10-minute overtime, Vernon took charge keeping play in the Kelowna end. Emily Thomas streaked down the right flank and used her left to sting one past the keeper.
Vernon dominated in the Kelowna end, with Szudek converting on a free kick with a bullet to the left of the keeper, making it 3-1.
Kelowna pressed hard in the second OT with Vernon solid on the ball. Kelowna had one great chance on a breakaway which was snuffed by Sherwood, taking out the Kelowna striker in the box. The penalty shot hit the cross bar, rebounding down near the goal line, and Yablonski scooped the loose ball for the save.
Vernon shut down Penticton 2-0 in Saturday’s semifinals with the Pinnacles enjoying a slight advantage in the see-saw opening half.
Penticton’s slick passing took Vernon by surprise but tireless efforts on the ball from Carly Southam and Kelsey Carriere denied the Pinnacles any goals.
Penticton had a great chance on a through ball early in the final 40 minutes with Makena Kersey committing to the check resulting in a Penticton penalty shot. The low shot was deflected by Yablonski, firing up the Vernon girls.
United responded and took charge with a Szudek corner crossing the goal line twice before the goal was awarded. Brianna Bobbitt, Paige Noakes and Keira Correia supplied bold play up front and Correia sweetly fed Szudek, who cruised in and buried a hard left-footer.
Vernon is coached by Felicia O’Gorman and assisted by Jenessa Moore. Said O’Gorman: “Each one of you left everything you had on the pitch; provincials here we come.”
The U16/17 girls clipped Penticton 2-1 in a game that coach John Hughes said “displayed tremendous committment to team shape and individual performance.”
Goals came from Lee Richardson, on a penalty shot, and the scorching winner by Tara Smith, on a set piece from a wide position.
“Kate Healy delivered ideal service into the box where Smith attacked the ball putting her body on the line to secure the provincial spot for her team. Overall, a good team performance,” said Hughes.
This is the third B.C. berth, in five years, for this group.
Penticton stopped Vernon 5-0 in the U13 boys final Saturday afternoon at Salmon Arm Credit Union & Savings Park with Noah Podloski making some dynamic diving saves in the first half and smacking the crossbar after a pass by Cole Johnson while playing up front in the final half.
Coming off their best effort of the year in a 3-0 win over the determined Shuswap Selects Saturday morning, the Vernon boys turned in a masterful display of teamwork and effort in both contests.
Vernon started strong verus Shuswap with aggressive pressure and passing culminating in a multi-player set-up for a successful 30-yard srike by Lee Christensen off a nice cross from Nicholas Purvis.
Christopher McIntosh had another good opportunity at 10 minutes, just missing the left post. Shuswap pressed a few long balls into Vernon’s end but the back line of Ty Ogasawara, Oliver Meyer, Shaun Boucher, Joseph Neufeld and recently reinstated Geritt van Soest (who has been injured most of the season), stymied any real opportunities.
Vernon hit a crossbar shortly after off a beautiful outside run and cross by Kristian Newell to Purvis.
The renewed Selects emerged in the second half pressing for the equalizer until Ogasawara recorded a strong run up the left side to pump up Vernon.
A couple of corners by Johnson almost clicked with Noah Podolski heading the first one at the keeper and Johnson ringing the rebound off the post. Podolski converted shortly after on another header near the six-yard line after some good passing by Johnson and Christensen.
Vernon made it 3-0 on a direct free kick by Purvis from just outside the 18 yard box, about two minutes after Shuswap was stymied on a breakaway by keeper Jared Jameson.
Marvellous showings by Jacob Baycroft, Taylor Boisvert, Bryce Tkachuk and McIntosh jumpstarted United, who also got solid outings from Hunter Housego, Zack Laranjo and Jaidyn Gordon-Mason. The boys learned a ton about the game from coaches Barry McIntosh and Rick Ogasawara.
United U15 boys bowed 3-1 to Penticton in Sunday’s final in Salmon Arm after grounding Kelowna 4-1 the day earlier.
Vernon was the only team to beat Penticton in league play with wins of 6-1 and 4-3, but United’s counterattack was ineffective and Penticton’s possession play was strong.
The Pinnacles went in front at nine minutes, while Vernon responded with a great second effort from Malcolm Wiens before the half. Vernon gave up another early goal in the second half and failed on a few chances to equalize. Gavin Mason was denied by the Pinnacle keeper on a penalty kick. Vernon’s hopes were sank moments later when Penticton iced it with their third.
“Despite today’s loss, the season was an overwhelming success,” said United coach Erick Burnet. “We finished the regular season with a great record and then beat Kelowna for the first time in three seasons.”
United exorcised some demons Saturday with the win over Kelowna as Wiens was sent in alone by Joshua Gray and gave Vernon an early lead.
Wiens’ speed was a constant problem for the Kelowna defence and towards the end of the half, Wiens was in tight again but was hauled down from behind. Mason smartly converted from the spot to make it 2-0.
In the second half, Kelowna had to press while Vernon bided their time for the counters.
The defence of Peter Hirschkorn, Kevin Thibault, Wyatt Carter, Gray and Sam Eggert played admirably and kept Kelowna’s quality chances to a minimum.
On one foray into the attacking zone, Mees Geelkerken streaked down the left side and put in a spectacular cross. Wiens made an attempt on it but the Kelowna defender marking him inadvertently smashed the ball into his own net.
The midfield of Charis Ondrik, Shey Townley and Mason also did their job clogging up the middle and intercepting passes to turn the ball over. James Huntington, Elias Jensen and Connor London had bold games in their defensive roles.
Vernon’s last goal came on another counter attack with Wiens being sent in again, this time by Geelkerken.
The keeper challenged, but Wiens went around him and roofed the ball in the net for the commanding lead. Harvey Pawsey played his best game of the year and was solid with a dozen saves for the win.
Yogi Kongsdorf’s Vernon U14 boys lost 3-2 to Kelowna United in an intense Saturday playoff tilt in Salmon Arm.
Within 10 minutes, Kelowna netted the first goal, revving up the Vernon squad who rallied hard but couldn’t connect. Kelowna recorded their second goal of the half with Vernon keeping up their intensity.
Ben Purivs and Finn Plummer dug deep in midfield and kept sending the ball to forwards Bryce Turner, Mika Burns, Jarrod Latta and Perez Vermeulen. With minutes left to go in the first half, Purvis converted.
With storm clouds looming in the final half, Kelowna pushed Vernon even harder and minutes into the half, Vermeulen provided the equalizer.
Kelowna quickly responded with the winner. Back and forth rallies occured and heavy rains hit with 10 minutes remaining. Despite a Kelowna forward being red-carded for attacking a defender, Vernon couldn’t even up the match.
Keeper Ian Oliphant was spectacular with his tough back line anchored by Trent Graham, Adam Raber and Danny Paskiewich.
In Under 15 girls play, Vernon lost 5-0 to Penticton, ending their season.
Booster Juice sponsored the Thompson Okanagan League with Kelowna winning the regular-season U13 girls title, Penticton taking the U13 boys, Vernon earning the U14 girls crown, Penticton pocketing the U14 boys, Kelowna ruling the U15 girls and the Pinnacles winning the U15 boys.
The Kamloops Blaze Blue collected the U16 girls’ regular-season crown with the Kamloops Blaze 16As winning the U16/17/18 boys title.
Penticton took the U17/18 girls crown.