Jaras Grant of the Penticton Pinnacles FC 15U boys scored once and set up another as the team edged Vernon 3-2 in the first round robin match at the Youth Provincial Championships Thursday in Burnbay. Western News file photo

Pinns win nail biter at provincials

Pinnacles U15 boys win first round game over Vernon

A last second penalty kick proved to be the margin of victory for the Penticton Pinnacles FC Boys U15 Thursday in the opener of the Youth Provincial Championships in Burnaby.

The 3-2 nail-biter over fellow Thompson Okanagan Youth Soccer League member (TOYSL) Vernon came after Pinns’ Mark Perron was tripped in the penalty box as they were pressuring to get the equalizer.

Chris MacDonald made no mistake on the penalty with the referee blowing the whistle seconds afterwards.

“It was inspiring and nerve-wracking,” said a relieved Penticton coach Steve Grant, who watched his team claw back from a 2-0 first half deficit.

The win was critical to keep the team’s hopes of winding up in the championship game Sunday against the other division round robin winners.

Under the current format, only the top team in each of the two divisions have a chance at the overall title. The second place squad in round robin play for third place.

“We could go anywhere from first to eighth,” said Grant before the start of the tourney. “We’ve beaten the teams that are there but we are playing on turf. We have a pretty dynamic, pretty set team, we shut teams down at the back line, we work pretty well together.

“We can dynamically score but we’re the youngest smallest team, but we always are so it doesn’t really matter, the kids always say ‘yeah we’re youngest we’re smallest yeah, yeah let’s go let’s play’ that’s just the way it is.”

Related: Pinns U15 boys off to provincials

The club lost its first three games of the season but rebounded in a big way, winning the next nine and clinching the division playdowns in Penticton in June.

In Thursday’s match, Vernon came out flying jumping into a two-goal lead.

Ten minutes into the final half, it was Jaras Grant stealing the ball from the Vernon defence, firing a shot and the jumping on the rebound to cut the lead to one.

Shortly afterwards Peron fed Grant a pass on a one on one and he slid the ball to Connor Moore who make no mistake getting the tying marker.

Penticton lost the services of midfielder Isaac Newsom to an ankle sprain in the half but continued to press, getting five corner kicks in the final minute before the penalty shot.

“Our defence, Brett Gauchie, Doug Grondzil, Anders Say, Malachi Konyenberg and Koen Dyck shut Vernon down in the second, only allowing two shots,” said Grant.

He added because the tournament is being played on artificial turf instead of real grass, the players are struggling a bit with the change.

“On turf the ball bounces a little bit higher and runs a little bit faster. Fortunately, the other teams in our division don’t play on turf either but those in the other division do,” he said. “We will need a turf field (in Penticton) very soon to be able to be competitive.”

The Pinnacles next play Nelson on Friday morning at 8 a.m and will meet their other division opponents, Gorge/Lakehill, in the final round robin game Saturday at noon.

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