The Penticton U18 Heat had to push themselves to be at their best.
Penticton finished its first season in the U18 division by going 11-1. They ended their season in the Interior Field Lacrosse Conference on the weekend at Pen High Secondary Oct. 30 with lopsided victories over the North Okanagan Legends and the Shuswap Outlaws 16-3.
“I would say it would be nice to have better competition in the Valley so we have to find a way within ourselves to play at our top,” said Penticton U18 coach Dan Chetner. “I would be disappointed if we weren’t able to win the league championship next week.”
Penticton will play the fourth-place team in their division. A league championship win advances the Heat to provincials, which features eight zones.
“Our goal to start the season was to earn our way to provincials and get a medal there,” said Chetner, adding they have been there before and won provincials two seasons ago, but played in Tier 1 last year and couldn’t compete prompting a return to Tier 2.
Chetner said his team possesses talented players who have worked to develop a team game. With low numbers, they had a couple of Kelowna players join who have been nice surprises.
“There is a couple of kids that really know how to compete and they have been good leaders for us,” said Chetner, who has been working with a young group led by a couple of third-year players.
This week in practice Chetner plans to refine everything and make sure they are able to execute when it counts.
It was a challenging season for the U15 and U11 sides. Chris Danby, president of the Penticton Minor Lacrosse Association, said after having a team combined of U11 and U13s, they made some changes that put U13 and U15 players together, while U9 and U11s combined, which worked better.
The U15 team, which were mainly U13s due to numbers, coached by Dan MacDonald, earned its lone win in the final weekend of the season, 5-4 against Kelowna. They lost their second game of the weekend 11-5 to North Okanagan. Danby said the players possessed various skill levels. Penticton will face North Okanagan in the playoffs in Kamloops this weekend.
Danby’s U11 team earned a 6-4 victory over Kelowna, then dropped a 7-3 decision to Kamloops 7-3. They went 2-12 on the season.
“I had a lot of new kids this year,” said Danby. “Really only a handful of kids with experience. It made it a little more challenging. The skill level of my team, varied from new to kids who have played for four or five years.
It was fun, the kids got better as the season progressed.”
Danby said his goal is to have kids keep coming back and playing. During the season he focused on developing their basic skills.
This weekend the team will face North Okanagan, who they managed to close the gap on a bit.
“It will be a tough game next weekend,” said Danby, who will have some starters missing.