The Penticton under-14 Heat hope to cap off their dominance in the Interior Field Lacrosse (IFL) with a zone championship.
Everything they have worked for comes down to Sunday in Vernon.
“This week’s practice has been about reinforcing what we have worked on all season,” said coach Dan Chetner. “I hope the team will be at its best when it matters.”
The team topped the IFL with a 12-1-1 record while scoring 158 goals and allowing 55. On Oct. 26 the Heat earned a 12-12 draw with North Okanagan, then pounded Kamloops 11-4.
“We didn’t play very well in the morning and then played, for the most part, really well in the afternoon,” said Chetner. “No explanation, it just was what it was.”
Chetner was surprised by the tie with North Okanagan, which finished with a 5-8-1 record. Penticton out chanced North Okanagan, but couldn’t finish.
“At the same time our defence wasn’t its best, our goalie wasn’t at his best,” he said.
Chetner liked how his group bounced back against Kamloops (10-4-0), a tougher opponent.
“We really dominated the game against Kamloops,” said Chetner. “It’s good as a coach to see your team perform in big games. That is probably the most difficult thing as an athlete is to overcome the mental challenge in what is considered an important game.”
Leading into last weekend, Chetner said the upcoming semifinal is a tuneup for the final.
“We are looking forward to it and I think we’re in a good situation,” said Chetner. “If we go out and execute and perform to our ability, we should have a good outcome.”
Kamloops has the next most dangerous offence scoring 131 goals, however, they allowed 76 goals.
The winner of Penticton/Kelowna will face the winner of Kamloops/North Okanagan.
The winner of the zones will advance to the provincial championship hosted by Burnaby in February.
On the under-12 side, Penticton went 0-13-1 as the youngest team playing against older squads such as Kelowna and Kamloops. Their season ended with a 6-5 loss to Kelowna and a 10-2 defeat against Kamloops. Penticton faces Kelowna, who won all its games, in their semifinal match.
Coach Chris Danby said the goal is to play a complete game.
“The last few weeks we have not played well for all four quarters and it has allowed the other teams to pull away from us,” said Danby. “If we play four solid quarters we should beat Kelowna, which would allow us to play Kamloops for the final.”
Should Penticton get that chance, Danby wants to see them narrow the gap. Last week’s loss to Kamloops was their closest result against them. Danby said if they can keep the score down and get more shots anything is possible.
“I would really like to see the team have fun, play hard and not give up regardless of the outcome,” he said. “That is one thing about this team is that they continue to battle hard regardless of the score.”
Penticton’s Jake MacLeod and Tyler Koppe have been playing for the Kelowna Kodiaks in the under-16 age group since Penticton doesn’t have a team. The Kodiaks topped the three-team division with a 9-2-1 record. MacLeod is an attacking midfielder and one of the Kodiaks’ leading scorers. The Kodiaks are expecting to win the zone and advance to provincials.
The Penticto Minor Lacrosse Association had Connor Ramage and Trenton Henson invited to the Team B.C. under-15 camp for Team Interior in Langley the weekend of Oct.11. Ramage was selected. Chetner said it was a great opportunity for both as they have had tremendous seasons.
“Both players have improved and worked hard at their positions,” said Chetner.
Also invited to camp in the under-12 group was Keegan Allen, but he did not make the team.