Pinnacles repeat as PSCL Bill Gillespie Challenge Cup champs

LaDawn Latawiec and Alana Parker score to secure championship for Pinnacles over Victoria squad

The Pacific Coast Soccer League’s Bill Gillespie Challenge Cup is staying in Penticton thanks to a 2-1 win over the Peninsula Co-op Highlanders Sunday at King’s Park.

“I’m beyond excited. I can’t really put it into words,” said Pinnacles captain Alana Parker, who netted the winner with about 10 minutes remaining. “We battled hard, they were the favourite to win. They won the league. We hadn’t won against them in the whole season.”

Parker said the group knew they could win if they finished their chances. Parker, who had just one goal on the season, didn’t make a mistake, burying her shot into the low right side.

“I wasn’t coming off a lot of positivity,” she said. “To be able to make that run and get the ball, put it in the net, feels great. I was beyond excited. I knew we had the game after that.”

The Pinnacles opened the scoring on a header by LaDawn Latawiec on a corner kick, but the Highlanders tied it at 1-1 just before the opening half ended.

“I thought we played really well. There were nerves early on,” said Parker. “We had some poor touches, but once we got our confidence and the feel of the game, and started to create chances, we played really well.”

Peninsula Co-op Highlanders coach Nikki Kaufmann said her team played outstanding, but commended the Pinnacles.

“They didn’t make it easy for us,” said Kaufmann. “They came out to play and to win. It’s great for them on home turf.”

The Pinnacles received strong goalkeeping from Emily Edmundson, who made the saves when called upon. However, Edmundson said she wasn’t challenged a lot.

“There weren’t a whole lot of strong scoring chances because a lot of them were blocked or kicked away,” said Edmundson, who plays for the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack. “There was one off the cross bar in the first half. Their goal was obviously a pretty good shot.”

Edmundson said it’s a great feeling to win again.

“I couldn’t have done it with a better group of girls,” the Kamloops product said. “Makes the whole season worth it.”

Coach Ray Hintz’s excitement was for his players.

“It feels so good for the girls,” he said. “Just the commitment level they picked up in the last two or three weeks, it was great. Very happy for every individual on the team.”

Pinnacles veteran Jana Yates was named most valuable player for the tournament and the Summerland product said she was surprised and happy to get that recognition.

“It was a tough weekend for me. It’s nice to have that to hold,” said Yates, who ended up with a few bumps and bruises. “Sitting on the bench the last 20 minutes, letting our team go ahead and take care of things, score a goal, it’s exciting. I’m proud of us.”

On the men’s side, the Tim Horton’s Pinnacles lost to the eventual champions, the Victoria Highlanders 2-1 in a shootout Saturday. The Pinnacles opened the scoring on a goal by Randy Hubber, but couldn’t hold their lead in the second half as the Highlanders got the equalizer on a corner kick.

“We were unlucky to concede the way we did off of a set piece,” said Pinnacles player/coach Wyatt Seddon-Johnstone. “I thought we played very well.”

In the shootout, Brett Depner got the Pinnacles first goal, then the Highlanders beat Brady van Ryswyk on their first shot. James Taylor then scored and the Highlanders tied it again. Ryan Jerry and Hubber were denied by Elliot Mitrou, while the Highlanders scored two more for a 4-2 finish.

Seddon-Johnstone said he didn’t feel the Highlanders generated many quality scoring chances compared to what they had.

“We just either weren’t on or just weren’t lucky enough today,” said Seddon-Johnston. “The older guys are a bit better because they know how to deal with that a bit better. It’s going to take them a while to get over this.  We were anticipating the best for this group to get into the final to win the cup. To go out the way we did was tough.”

Pinnacles captain Jeremy Perreira said he felt they played well, though they could have been more patient in the offensive end.

“We seemed to get into that zone and have too much urgency,” said Perreira, adding that they could have fought harder and lacked defensive headers. “We kind of lost it a lot in that area. It made our midfields run a lot. That could have made the difference.

“There’s a lot of heads that are down,” continued Perreira on the mood in the dressing room. “We should have won that game considering how we played. You have to give it to their goalie, their goalie played magnificent. Especially in the penalties. We had chances to put the game away.”

During the awards ceremony the Pinnacles’ Depner received a $1,200 bursary from the PCSL.