Shelby Rodgers was a hero for the Pinnacles FC U18 team as they won gold over the Nelson Selects in a 3-2 final decided by penalty kicks.
The Pinnacles are B.C. Soccer B Cup provincial champs winning in front of a supportive home crowd at Kings Park 3 Sunday. Rodgers said it was an amazing feeling to deny Alexandra Zondervan with the Selects ahead 2-1 in penalty kicks at that point.
“When I did, it was just, I was on top of the world,” said Rodgers, whose teammates chanted her name a few times after the win. “I knew I did my part for my team, like they do for me.”
That save was followed by a Jasper Pankratz goal. Nelson’s next two shooters, Merissa Dawson and Maya Ida, missed and scored respectively. After Pankratz scored, so did Jollee Perrier and Britney Young, who had given the Pinnacles a 4-3 lead in penalty kicks.
“I was so nervous. Just pick a spot and hit it. I always hit bottom left corner,” said Young, after winning her first provincial championship.
The team erupted with the crowd. Rodgers said she felt like crying after Young scored.
“I am so proud of this team. We worked so hard,” said Rodgers. “It’s a great feeling to be victorious after working our butts off all season.”
The Pinnacles had two leads, Savanna Yamamoto with the first goal, and twice Nelson countered. It was a physical affair and a matchup Rodgers said both teams played well in. Young said it was a tough battle and “we all just had to dig deep and give it all we got.” During some difficult moments, Young said the players were encouraged by coaches Ray Hintz and Duarte Francisco. They told the players to not have any regrets.
Hintz, who won his fifth provincial championship, said it feels great, especially for the players.
“I thought we deserved to win the game. I thought we had enough chances in regulation and in overtime when we had a PK and missed an open net.”
One of the missed chances was by Pankratz, who had a great opportunity to finish the Selects off late in the second extra half. Pankratz was in disbelief when she missed the target and when the half was over, was consoled by teammates and coaches as she was visibly upset. Hintz said his player showed character in how they handled themselves.
“What a great game for both teams,” said Hintz, adding that Rodgers was great for them.
The Pinnacles handed the Selects just their second loss all season. Selects coach Chuck Bennett said his team were in the same position during the high school AA provincials when they won in penalty kicks.
“The girls get it,” said Bennett, who teared up while giving his players hugs. “They know they’ve had a spectacular year and what a team they are. They are probably disappointed. Penticton is a good team. I thought they played gritty. I thought they played tough. We knew it was going to be a battle.”
The Pinnacles U15 and 17 teams played for bronze, losing 3-1. The U17s to the Prince George Timberwolves and the U15s to the Powell River Predators.
Pinnacles U15 boys play outshines silver medal
The U15s coached by Manuel Borba lost the gold medal game 2-1 to the Surrey FC Avalanche in West Vancouver.
Jaxon Espenhain was the Pinnacles lone scorer playing on a roster of just 12. During the season they had four players who were U16, but were not eligible for provincials.
“I thought my team played excellent all weekend,” said Borba, whose team played U15/16 this season.
The Pinnacles U15 boys picked up silver at provincials in West Vancouver after losing to Surrey United Avalanche 2-1. The team is as follows top row from left: manager Clif Martins, coach Scott Edwards, Carter Edwards, Simon Groot, Austin Afonso, Matthew Patrick, Jaxon Espenhain and coach Manuel Borba. Bottom row from left: Joaquin Borba, Victor Campagnaro, Christian Martins, Ryan Peters, Yan Peron, Levi Biron and Darren Keilty.
After cruising through pool play with victories over Nelson, 5-2, Juan de Fuca, 5-1 and Terrace, 7-1, the Pinnacles were up against a strong Avalanche side that played a physical style.
“We knew we were in tough. It was a very physical game,” said Borba, who was thrown out in the second half after taking exception to the referee not issuing a red card to an Avalanche player running his keeper, Ryan Peters.
The Pinnacles had a chance to even the score with Christian Martins taking a penalty shot, but the keeper made the save.
Borba said his players were upset with losing, but in his opinion, his team got something bigger out of it.
The reward, Borba said, took place during their third game. A B.C. Soccer technical director watching the A Cup provincials went to watch the Pinnacles after being asked to head over and assess the team. The director told Borba they were playing fantastic soccer.
“After the game he came to me and said ‘You guys are playing the best soccer I’ve seen down here in a long, long time’,” Borba repeated. “That was a great compliment for us because usually they don’t scout the B.”
Borba said they have been encouraged to join the A Cup side, though that is tough for the club because of their numbers. Borba said it is something they would look at.
“I was told afterwards that there is two or three players that they ID’d on our team that they will be passing onto provincial coaches,” said Borba, adding it shows what they are doing in the club and players don’t have to join higher leagues or travel to be noticed. “That is something we were hoping, that eventually if we produced good enough players, that they would be noticed even at home. They are which is fantastic.”