It takes years of dedicated practice, good coaching, long hours of travel and real talent to play at the top level of B.C. amateur soccer.
This weekend, five local boys proved they could do just that as they took to the fields to challenge for the Pacific Coast Soccer League Championships.
Four of the boys play for the U21 development team: Logan Abbott, Jonathon Purnell, Andrew Hauser and Austin Schneebeli. The other, Dylan Abbott, plays in the premier division for the Okanagan Challenge.
In the U21 semi-final game, the boys took on the talented and polished Coquitlam Metro Ford team that had finished first in league play. On this day, though, the local boys’ team carried the play, and through skill and tenacity, managed a well-deserved 2-1 victory. Their championship game was against another strong coastal team from West Vancouver. West Van was no match for the Okanagan team as the boys dominated the play and came away with a 3-1 victory.
Both Logan Abbott and Hauser set up great goals while Purnell and Schneebeli kept the opposition off the score sheet.
Dylan Abbott and his Okanagan Challenge team faced a powerhouse UBC Thunderbird Team in their semi-final. This team had dominated league play and sported many top varsity players.
The Challenge got off to a quick start, though, and were carrying the play. They were awarded a long free kick and, as it was dropping near the back post, Abbott slid in to tip the ball past the UBC goalie. UBC equalized and it looked like the game could go to overtime but once again Abbott scored to give the Challenge the lead. The Challenge added an insurance goal late in the game to defeat the mighty UBC Thunderbirds 3-1.
In the Premier League final the Challenge met rival Khalsa from Vancouver. They had met twice in league play with Khalsa winning and tying.
The final was a physical affair with the Challenge scoring to take a 2-1 lead right at the 90-minute mark. But in the second extra minute of injury time Khalsa scored to tie the game. Thirty minutes of overtime solved nothing so the game went to penalty kicks.
The team exchanged goals and saves until the seventh shooters, when the Challenge goalie made a tremendous diving save to steal the game and championship.