The Penticton Pinnacles under-21 girls team is back.
After a one-year absence from the Pacific Coast Soccer League, the Pinnacles have returned to the women’s reserve division.
A combination of veterans with youth gives coach Ray Hintz reason to like his group. Among the group are players from under-16 and -17 that Hintz feels will help them. Earlier this week Summerland’s Jana Yates returned from Victoria, choosing to play for the Pinnacles instead of the Victoria Highlanders in the United Soccer League’s W-League.
“It’s nice to be home. I would have enjoyed playing with them again but I’m ready to recharge for a school year with the University of Victoria Vikes,” said Yates. “Play some fun football and not sit on the bench.”
Yates called up Hintz and showed up to Tuesday’s practice and found herself leading it.
“I told Ray I’d play on the team and then he calls me up and tells me to run practice,” she said.
Yates is looking forward to a fun season. She also excited about getting more touches with the ball and extra training as she strives to become a starter at the university level.
“They are hosting nationals so it’s an exciting time,” said Yates, who is also looking to get her confidence back as a leader on the Pinnacles compared to being “a no-one on the Highlanders.” This is a time for me to get my confidence back.”
Hintz called Yates return a pleasant surprise. Also joining are Casey Conway, Alana Parker, Taylor Pinto, Mary Kampman and sisters Willow and Erin Finlay.
Hintz said it’s not out of the question for them to be able to win the PCSL, which they did the season before last.
“It’s going to be a lot of work. We have a tough opponent this week in Kelowna,” said Hintz. “Our goal is to try and make the playoffs. I think we have the talent to do it.”
The men’s team, coached by Ezra Cremers, the executive director/head coach for the South Okanagan Youth Soccer Association, was to have opened its season last weekend in Kamloops, but the game never took place. Cremers got word late last week that officials weren’t available to work the game.
“We were all ready to go,” said Cremers, adding there was disappointment from the team. “We are excited to kick off.”
That will happen this weekend as the Pinnacles travel to the Lower Mainland to face West Van FC and then TSS Academy. The Pinnacles will have a smaller roster this season, but Cremers expects more players to return in June and July. Cremers has been training his group hard and bragged about defeating them during military boot camp.
“I’m pumped,” said Cremers, who revealed that he will also play. “Before I started doing this as a full time gig, I was training to go back and play for UBC. I’m not quite done as a player.”
Cremers, 29, added the other reason for him playing is because if they had 18 “very good” players, he wouldn’t need to. The PCSL allows five overagers on rosters.
“Based on the lineup we have to date, I feel that I can contribute on the field for the team,” said Cremers, whose coaching staff consists of Paulo Araujo, Manuel Borba and John Holman.
Playing won’t interfere with Cremers’ ability to coach. Because he will play the centre mid position, it’s a spot that requires a certain amount of guidance from that player he said. The team will use a 4-3-3 system and they intend to play an attacking, possessive style. He wants the team to work hard and have a lot of fun and be a good team and compete in the league.
“For us it’s more important than winning,” he said. It’s a rebuild from last year.”
The Pinnacles will be led by captain Jeremy Pereira and in goal they have Travis Froehlich.