Vernon United teams pocketed two gold medals and one bronze in the Kelowna Canada Day Rep Soccer Tournament.
Vernon stopped Southwest United of Calgary 1-0 in the Under 13 Boys final Monday in a battle of undefeated teams.
Vernon set the tone early with great pressure and a relentless attack. Six minutes in, Malcolm Wiens intercepted a pass across the defensive line, went wide around the keeper and slotted it into the net.
The locals, coached by Rolf Hirschkorn, Rob Eggert and Will Wiens, were by far the stronger team creating plenty of chances. The posts were Calgary’s best friend as Vernon struck the uprights four times.
“If half of those had gone in it wouldn’t have even been close,” quipped Hirschkorn.
But close it remained to the end, providing a very entertaining contest. Calgary had one glorious chance snuffed out by Langdon Kersey clearing the ball off the line, coming to the aid of his keeper.
Added Hirschkorn: “All the boys brought their best of the season, with particular kudos to Liam Hennig, Connor Johnson, Matthew Jackson, Tiege Doughty and Cameron Mackenzie. Charis Ondrik collected his third Man of the Match with his stellar play in the midfield. Elias Jensen preserved the win with his third shutout of tournament play this year and finished the season with a stellar GAA of 0.79.”
United came from behind to brush back Kelowna 3-2 in their tournament opener.
Hennig supplied the equalizer midway through the first half after Wiens created a turnover. Shortly after, Johnson played a through ball to Wiens who finished with his left for the lead.
Before the half was out, Vernon extended its lead to 3-1 when Wiens stole a ball off a defender and lobbed it over the keeper.
Mathew Jackson, Kersey and Doughty had solid games and Sam Eggert had a man-of-the-match performance.
United then showed a killer instinct for the first time all season in a 6-0 ambushing Alberta’s Airdrie FC.
Peter Hirschkorn put a beautiful free kick into the area that was run onto and clinically finished by Wiens early in the game.
Four minutes later, Vernon doubled its lead when Ondrik took a feed from Kenzel Aarts-Roman and curled a shot from outside the 18 into the top right corner. Three minutes later, Jay Peterson sent Wiens in alone and he went wide on the onrushing keeper and buried the ball into the empty net.
Thirty seconds into the second half, Wiens received a gift from an Airdrie defender and quickly punished the surprised keeper low to the left side. Three minutes later, Johnson made a terrific run up the right side and crossed the ball into the area where it was met expertly by a Jensen header.
Hennig and Eggert had opportunities for more offensive roles as the coaches decided to take the foot off the gas.
Cameron MacKenzie rounded out the attack by cleaning up the garbage after an Ondrik (Man of the Match) left foot didn’t make it through the crowded defence. Reed Cashato and Jensen shared the shutout.
In the final game of group play, United held off Nelson 2-1.
In the 21st minute, Cashato dribbled up the right flank and cut in along the goal line before flipping the ball back out to a waiting Kersey for the first goal.
The teams traded chances for the rest of the half with Nelson’s closest opportunity coming when they rang one shot off the post.
Nelson equalized a minute into the second half Nelson, but at 14 minutes, Vernon was awarded a penalty on a questionable call. Wiens struck it off the crossbar and out of play. Redemption came a minute later when Ondrik (Man of the Match) played a perfectly-weighted ball through to Wiens, who maneuvered past the last defender to score on a nice shot.
Jensen preserved the win and was aided by superb play by the back four of Peterson, Aarts-Roman, Hirschkorn and Eggert.
Stinger girls strike gold
Coach Brad Wyse put together a mixture of U12 development, U12 house, U10 and U9 girls to play in the Canada Day Tournament.
The Stingers came together and formed a formidable team which went 4-0 to win their division and claim the gold medal.
Vernon stopped Okanagan Mission 1-0 (3-2) in penalty kicks in Monday’s championship.
“The girls played a much stronger possession game and created more scoring opportunities than they did the first time the teams played (1-0 win by Vernon),” said Stinger assistant coach Mike Bertram.
“The defence again stood out leaving Shauna Bradley with no tough saves during the game. Lailah Akkurt, Player of the Game, was dominant at centre back and had her best game of the tournament.
“Amandeep Malhi was a strong stay-at-home defender all tournament long.”
Bradley made three big stops in the shootout to record her fourth straight shutout. Stinger shootout scorers were Jai Sidhu, Maddie Smith and Malhi.
The Stingers opened with a 4-0 win over Prince George, with Lydia Lavigne jumpstarting the offence on a nice individual run before finding the right corner.
Libby Wyse outworked the defence and beat the keeper low to the near side for the second goal. Sidhu buried the last two goals. U10 call ups Callie Bertram, Emma Lockwood and Dhillon Sidhu had strong games at the midfield position. Lavigne was the Player of the Game.
In Game 2, the Stingers defeated OK Mission 1-0 when Lavigne scored on a long shot that beat the keeper to the top corner. Lavigne charged the ball and didn’t let it bounce which led directly to her goal.
Bradley made two great stops in net to preserve her second straight shutout. Smith was the Player of the Game as she anchored the defence and limited the opposition’s chances.
The third game resulted in a 6-0 win over Rutland. Bradley again pitched the shutout behind a great effort by the defence anchored by Olivia Weber-Concannon, Claire Schmidt and Brianne Bertram.
Paige Brown played strong at midfield and Sydney Embleton had her best game creating many scoring chances and slotting home a goal. Lavigne, Lockwood and game MVP Sidhu, with the hat trick, did the rest of the scoring.
U12 boys bag bronze
In U12 Boys play, Vernon United clipped the Calgary Rangers 1-0 (2-1 in penalty kicks) in Monday’s bronze-medal match.
United keeper Noah Schneider was brilliant in the shootout, only getting beat by the opening Ranger shooter. Striker Ben Purvis, named game MVP and tournament -game ball recipient, connected on United’s first shot and Alex Ogunbiyi won it with a hard, low blast with Vernon’s fifth shot. Nick Mitchell, the fourth United shooter, also converted, but skied his re-do, ordered because he didn’t wait for the referee’s whistle.
Defenders Kody Kongsdorf, Declan Stevenson, Joe Eggert, Dylan Huber and Zach Agar, along with midfielders Dexter Weiten, Steve Benischek and striker Brett Hansen, had solid showings.
Vernon, coached by Roy Cooper and Kevin Mitchell, grounded Calgary West Real Madrid 1-0 in their Saturday afternoon opener.
Noah Schneider, named Vernon’s tourney MVP, earned the shutout in a good back-and-forth game with Vernon enjoying the edge in play. Calgary struck the post on a penalty shot in the 15th minute, while United, led by Ben Purvis, Mika Burns and Braeden Cooper, had several good chances before the end of the first half.
Vernon kept the pressure on in the second half, and with a few minutes remaining, Brendan Yakura ran up the left wing with the Calgary keeper coming out to challenge. The ball bounced off a Calgary defender to Ogunbiyi who looped the ball beautifully over everybody into the back of the net to earn Man of the Match.
Vernon then bowed 5-0 to eventual champion Scottish United, with keeper Nick Mitchell making several big saves against the fast and ultra-skilled Edmonton boys.
Scottish United converted on a nice shot near the 10th minute, as Vernon’s great speed kept damage to a minimum in the first half. Edmonton added three goals in the final half, one off a rebound of a penalty shot stopped by a diving Mitchell. Hustling Brendan Yakura took Man of the Match for Vernon.
Vernon then bowed 2-0 to losing finalist Edmonton Juventus with United starting strong once again with a good chance (Purvis to Burns to Man of the Match Cooper) in the opening minutes.
In the 20th minute, Juventus placed a hard, high shot just out of the reach of Schneider for the lead.
Vernon got great hustle from their entire roster, especially Yakura and Weiten.
Juventus started the second half with some dangerous chances in tight and only the great work by Schneider kept it a 1-0 game, however, he injured his knee on a fearless challenge. Mitchell came in as his replacement late in the first half, facing several shots and making some great saves.