Connor Hawley goes up to head the ball away from the Penticton Pinnacles net on Saturday. The Pinnacles won the game 3-0 against the Mid-Isle Mariners. (Brennan Phillips — Western News)

Young Penticton Pinnacles hanging in with Pacific Coast Soccer League men

The Penticton Pinnacles have three wins and two losses so far this season

Sitting at just over .500, five games into the Pacific Coast Soccer League season, is just fine and dandy with Penticton Pinnacles assistant coach Manuel Borba.

“We have a really young team with eight of our players still eligible to play youth soccer. We brought these kids to play against the men last season and they struggled, but now we are seeing them get stronger and by next year we feel they will be in their prime,” said Borba.

In previous seasons, the Pinnacles depended on homegrown talent returning for the summer from college and university to fill the roster. Borba said with so many players now deciding to stay where their university is to work over the summer, the team had to look at different options or risk losing its position with the league.

While there are strong university players back with the Pinnacles, like TRU WolfPack’s top striker James Fraser, his teammate Jordell Afonso and Simon Fraser University’s Bjorn Borren, the team had also had outside interest.

Borba said several Division 1 NCAA players from the U.S. have poked around the idea of playing in Penticton over the summer. With word out about its top-notch facilities and Chris Bennett, a member of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, as head coach, it has landed two of those players.

READ MORE: Pinnacles Borren joins SFU Clan

Centre-back Owen Twokowski, 22, and midfielder Micah Smoak, 24, joined the squad from their university teams in Florida.

“They heard about our program, facilities and the opportunity to be trained by Coach Bennett and made the decision to come here,” said Borba. “These are two very good, strong players that add some feistiness to our game.”

Heading into the weekend, the Pinnacles have three wins and two losses, including a big win last Saturday on home turf at King’s Park. Keeper Brian Peters, one of the U-18 players on the team turned the opportunity to start against the Mid-Isle Mariners into an amazing introduction to league play.

“It was his very first start in the league and he turns out a shutout. It couldn’t have gone any better for him,” said Borba. “We made a mistake in the first five minutes and he made a big save for us that otherwise could have put us in the hole early. Once we settled down and got the game under control he was still counted on a few times. It really is quite the feat to have a shutout against these men.”

The 3-0 win came after a discouraging 8-0 loss for the Pinnacles to the Victoria Reserves.

Borba said it was a tough transition the weekend prior with a shortened roster due to injury leaving their younger players struggling to keep up with the mostly university calibre players from Victoria. To top it off, the Pinnacles were playing their second game in a matter of 24 hours.

“That is one of the big issues for us. We only have a roster of 18 so when we have players go down, it is a problem. However, we are very happy that the team has a fighting spirit and we look forward to playing a new team to the league this year, the Tigers (Vancouver), this Saturday at home,” said Borba, of the game which will start at 4 p.m.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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