Pinnacles playoff hopes stay alive

With near identical records, the Penticton Pinnacles under-21 soccer teams are striving for the same thing, just taking different paths.

Penticton Pinnacles Marino Mellaart goes for the sliding check to steal the ball from the TSS Academy defender Vivek Sharma. The Pinnacles won 2-1. Below

Penticton Pinnacles Marino Mellaart goes for the sliding check to steal the ball from the TSS Academy defender Vivek Sharma. The Pinnacles won 2-1. Below

With near identical records, the Penticton Pinnacles under-21 soccer teams are striving for the same thing, just taking different paths.

The women’s team, coached by Ray Hintz, are 4-3-3 and the men’s team guided by coach/player Ezra Cremers is 4-3-2.

Both teams took to the field on Saturday at Kings Park with the women’s team downing Kelowna United 3-1.

Communication was key as Crystal Schuder netted two goals and Jana Yates the other.

Captain Alana Parker said they played really well. The Pinnacles came together and controlled the play. In their first meeting at the start of the season, the Pinnacles tied Kelowna United 1-1. Averaging two goals per game entering Saturday’s match, Parker said it was nice for them to score.

“All the games from now on are really important,” said Parker. “We have to make probably top three to make it to playoffs this year.”

The players feel they are coming together.

“A lot of us haven’t played together before,” she said. “The more the year goes on the more we’re learning how each other plays.”

Yates said there is a big age difference between the players. However, one of the positives she noticed from the win was they kept the ball more. She also said it was nice to beat Kelowna and added they have come a long way.

“Every game is important now. All the teams are within five points,” she said. “Going on the road to Victoria is going to be a big weekend.”

Parker and Yates said among the players who have impressed are Aja Choy-Halo and Jill Flockhart. Both are older players who bring experience and alleviate the pressure from Yates and Parker.

When asked if there is confidence in the group about making the playoffs, Yates said they “can play with every team in this league.”

“It’s going to be a close race to make playoffs,” she said.

The Pinnacles have four games remaining on their schedule. Their next home games are July 21 and 22.

For Cremer’s group, the path has been about playing Pinnacles FC soccer.

Cremers said men’s 4-3-2 mark is not a bad record. He sees progress as they try to play a dynamic style.

“Starting see the ball go around the pitch, in the back, try to go around in mid field,” he said. “It’s coming, but taking time. This group has potential, spirit.”

At this point in the season, the players are still trying to keep the ball. The other important thing is that Cremers sees the players responding. If he didn’t, then there would be problems.

“It was a tough game for them,” said Cremers of their 2-1 win again TSS Academy. “We should have scored early. We make it tough for ourselves. I’m happy for them. We are developing and we’re progressing.”

Pinnacles captain Jeremy Pereira said playing a more positive, simple game resulted in the win. Both teams had their chances. TSS Academy hit the bar on a couple of occasions but did score a nice goal from the top of the box by Joshua Pap, who picked the top corner on Pinnacles keeper Travis Froelich. In the second half, Dion Gouldsborough broke in on the keeper and was denied. After leaping to avoid contact, he was shocked to see the official writing him up for a yellow card. He would get the last laugh on a header that resulted in the winner.

“It was huge,” said Cremers of Gouldsborough’s goal. “He’s a great player. We have asked him to play in the back, asked him to play up front. For him to get some redemption and get the header was big for us. We had to win today.”

Cremers said that TSS Academy (11 losses in 11 games) is not a team with no wins or ties.

“They’re a good little team,” he said. “They are young, they are good, they play good football and they have given many teams (trouble). Nanaimo was in second place and they only beat this team 1-0. It’s a very tight league.”