This is the third and final story on the Penticton Soccer Club to commemorate its 60th anniversary.
Rewind to June 27, 2004, and the Penticton Soccer Club (PSC) celebrated its 50th anniversary by hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps for an exhibition match.
It all came together after five months of planning following discussions between Charlie Goeckel, a lifetime director with the PSC, and Bob Lenarduzzi, who was the director of soccer operations of the Whitecaps when they played in the United States League. They talked about the importance of the anniversary and it was agreed that an exhibition was the best way to celebrate.
The Pinnacles lost 6-2 in front of nearly 2,500 fans, (free for youth soccer kids and $5 admission for adults) who watched as Lenarduzzi and Whitecaps coach Tony Fonseca, an ex-Portuguese national team player, played for the Penticton side.
“It was just excellent. It couldn’t have been any better,” said Goeckel in a 2004 interview. “From the technical side of it all, it was a good game for us. The Whitecaps demonstrated some very good skills. The score didn’t really matter.”
Pinnacles coach Ivo Jaager said at the time he was pleased with the play of his team adding that fans were appreciative.
“Most of the people were impressed as to how well we played against such a high-calibre team,” said Jaager in 2004.
The club forked over around $8,000 for the expenses of hosting the Whitecaps, which included the rental of a private plane to bring them to Penticton.
PSC president Dale Anderson remembers the game being fabulous to watch as both teams possessed skill.
“The Whitecaps didn’t hold back,” said Anderson.
What impressed Anderson most about the Whitecaps was that people got in line for autographs for three to four hours.
“These players were very welcoming,” said Anderson adding that Lenarduzzi’s and Fonseca’s professionalism had rubbed off on the athletes. “They were great with the fans, really great to watch.”
Anderson also remembers Lenarduzzi and the players telling the club that they had never been treated so well, adding that Penticton was first-class. Anderson believes that led to helping them get the Whitecaps ladies professional game against the Santa Clarita Blue Heat on July 8, 2011.
Fast forward to July 26-27 of this year, and to celebrate the 60th anniversary, the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) awarded the club the Challenge Cup playoffs.
“The playoffs went absolutely spectacular,” said Anderson, president of PSC for 12 years.
The celebration during the playoffs recognized Pinnacles players from the 1950s to 70s with PCSL board of directors as well as Pinnacles FC members. Spectators watched as the Pinnacles women’s team captured back-to-back championships, while the men’s side lost in the semifinal round to the eventual Challenge Cup champion Victoria Highlanders FC, 3-2 in a shootout. Anderson said the outcome of the playoffs was so well received, that the Khalsa Sporting Club, who won the Sheila Anderson Memorial Challenge Cup (men’s Premier Division), went back to Vancouver and asked the president of the PCSL if Penticton could host the playoffs every year.
“They said it was first class,” repeated Anderson.
While hosting the PCSL playoffs every year won’t happen, it’s in the works for Penticton to host an international game during the May long weekend tournament in 2015. There is interest from the Portland Timbers, who compete for the J.F. Kennedy Cup, consisting of the Oregon and Washington State champs, and the B.C. team in the PCSL that finishes highest. They will take on the PCSL all-stars.
“That would be the highest calibre of ball that we have had here since the women’s Whitecaps professional game,” said Anderson.
Since the Pinnacles joined the PSCL in 1997, the men’s team played in the Premier Division and failed to win a championship. The team switched over to the Reserve Division in 2007 and won its first Challenge Cup last year.
On the women’s side, the league’s website only has information as far back as 2007, but the Pinnacles won the Bill Gillespie Challenge Cup in 2009, 2013 and 2014.
Anderson said looking at a three-peat for the women’s team is important.
“On reserve side we are ecstatic. How can we not be happy with the results we’re seeing?” said Anderson. “I don’t think we accomplished what we wanted on the Premier side. That’s why we would like to take another shot at it. I believe we have the strength to actually win the Premier league. It’s a few years out.”
Below, Pinnacles forward Randy Hubber was named the 2013 Challenge Cup most valuable player.