The Thompson-Okanagan box lacrosse team surprised many by playing for gold at the 2016 Abbotsford B.C. Summer Games.
“Nobody in the know expected our team to do as well as we did,” said coach Dan Chetner, a coach in the Penticton Heat association. “I knew we had a good team. I knew we could take those other teams. We beat Fraser Valley and put them in the bronze medal game and that was a huge upset.”
Chetner added playing in the gold medal game was the first time for any Thompson-Okanagan team, including in field lacrosse.
“It was fantastic. The team was really excited, played very well,” said Chetner.
The Thompson-Okanagan zone lost the gold medal to Fraser River 8-6 and led going into the third period. Chetner said they just couldn’t finish it surrendering four goals.
“To end up losing in the last few minutes of the game really stung,” said Ben Olsen, one of nine Penticton Heat players on the team.
Chetner said the effort and intensity from his players was outstanding. Heat players scoring in the championship game were Beau Chetner with two goals and Olsen.
“It was a great opportunity for those kids to play with a team of really talented players,” said Chetner. “We were deep top to bottom. The kids are skilled and talented. We really worked on team building knowing we would be together for a short time. We tried to encourage strong team play, we got that. That’s how we were successful.”
“It was nice to do it with a group of guys that I have been with for a while,” said Olsen, who scored four goals against Cariboo NE that helped lift Thompson-Okanagan to a 9-5 win.
Olsen said the championship game was played at a higher speed compared to the other games and that Fraser River was a tough team, adding it was a game to play in.
“I felt like all of us had a really good game. We all put the effort out that we needed to,” said Kale Lawrence.
Jack Wahl, coach of Fraser River admitted to underestimating the Okanagan side.
“They are a very good and talented team” he said.
What Olsen enjoyed about the Games is that it resembled the Olympics.
“It does feel like you’re on the big stage,” he said.
Lawrence enjoyed the competition and atmosphere.
“It was crazy how many people came to games,” he said.
Chetner said that along with meeting new people, the Games provided the players a chance to compete at a “high level in a sport you are passionate about.”
Representing the Heat were Beau Chetner, Brendan Craig, Colin Duffield, Freddy Harbinson, Lawrence Kalezafar, Nash Moog, Olsen, Lawrence, Connor Ramage and Cairo Rogers.
The field lacrosse squad placed fifth. Heat members on that team were Jackson Jamieson, Rhys MacDonald, Jacob Stewart, Ethan Konno, Aidan Danby, Aiden Canada and Keegan Allen.
Boys net gold in soccer shootout
It had to come down to a shootout to decide who would win gold in boys soccer.
Thompson-Okanagan came out on top thanks to efforts by keeper Brenan Martin, leading to a 1-0 win over Vancouver-Coastal. Thompson-Okanagan coach Yann Calmets said he knew that Vancouver-Coastal was a good team with strong defence.
But after each game that Thompson-Okanagan played, they took stock of how to improve.
“It was a very good group because we practiced maybe two times together,” said Calmets. “The two goal keepers, Martin and Ryan Peters supported each other no matter who was in the net. Most important, was to work together.”
Helping secure the win were six members from Pinnacles FC under-15: Levi Biron, Yan Peron, Austin Afonso, Ryan Peters, Carter Edwards and Christian Martins.
“I was getting pretty sick and tired of coming in second-place as I have come second twice in provincials, so to get the gold is pretty great,” said Biron. “It was exciting for the whole team. We had everyone from all the other games came to watch our game, the pressure was on for everyone that went up to shoot. It was something that everyone is going to remember for sure.”
After the winning goal, the team gathered in a dog pile in the middle of the field. Biron said it was a “a pretty good feeling” to hear the whistle. Biron said the group thought they were the best team in the tournament. They won their opening two games easily. Once they reached the final, they faced a good team.
CHRISTIAN MARTINS represented Pinnacles FC with the Thompson-Okanagan team at the 2016 Abbotsford B.C. Summer Games. B.C. Games photo
“We all played together, we played pretty good,” he said. “We let in one goal the whole tournament.”
Brenan Martin and Ryan Peters shared goalkeeping duties.
Biron said the Games experience was like nothing he had seen before.
“We had quite a big crowd for each of the games. I was a lot more nervous for each game than I have ever been before,” he said. “The whole experience is pretty good. The final game winning was probably the best experience of it all.”
The girls side also need a shootout to decide a winner. Thompson-Okanagan defeated Vancouver Coastal 2-1. Representing Pinnacles FC on that team were Mckenna Clarke, Renee Chernoff, Kalli Doell, Allyn Deakin and Vanessa Edis.
The Thompson-Okanagan zone placed fifth in the medal standings with 82, including 31 gold. Vancouver Island-Central Coast finished at the top with 171 medals, 65 are gold.
Penticton’s Jerry Xiang was among two officials who received a Coast Capital Savings Leadership Bursary worth $500 for his role in soccer. Recipients were chosen from over 200 applicants for their significant achievements in sport and education and most importantly, leadership contributions to their schools, community or sport associations.