No goals against. Winning a B.C. championship in a clean, respectful fashion.
Vernon United Tolko U15 boys, featuring Revelstoke player Rogan Campbell, won the 2019 Les Sinnott Provincial B Soccer Cup championship in Prince George, marking the first time since at least 1987 that a Vernon United boys team has won gold at the B.C. finals.
United keeper Justin Ruscheinsky had a clean sheet for the entire tournament, allowing no goals against in four games, while the team was named winner of the Fair Play Award at tournament’s end based on sportsmanship and respect. The Fair Play Award is tallied by referee rankings of the teams during the round robin play.
“I am so proud of this team and what they accomplished in provincials,” said Vernon head coach Pat Hinds. “They played great possession ball, created scoring chances and played excellent team defence. And our keeper, Justin Ruscheinsky, came up with some huge saves when we did concede scoring opportunities.
“Also it was great for a team to win the Fair Play Award for their division. This really showed that they played with effort and passion, but still respected their opponents and the officials.”
Vernon took on Prince George Impact in its opening game and recorded a 1-0 win on goal from Justin Arsenault off an Alex Kazimer lob from the corner in the second half. Rogan Campbell and Jacob Huntington held fast in the back line.
Next up was the Kootenay East Rovers, who fell 5-0 to Tolko. With a lot of action in the midfield, Cam Acob, Declan Hardy and Zach Loland were kept busy. Arsenault had a clean finish on a pass by Jonathan Fraser-Monroe to give Vernon a 1-0 lead at the break. After the mid-game pep talk, Loland passed a great though ball to Carter Leahy, who placed the shot brilliantly past the Rovers’ keeper at 52 seconds into the half.
Two minutes later, Loland and Leahy replicated the same pass and shot for goal three. Ronan Hinds and Jonah Strachan supported on the wing, getting crosses into the box for strikers Liam Collins and Marcus Erho. An unfortunate fall had Strachan come off with what ended up to be a fractured wrist. Campbell crossed a beautiful pass to Huntington who scored with a diving header. Two minutes later, Campbell got his own header into the net for the fifth and final goal.
The toughest game of the pool came Saturday against Vancouver United FC Aces. Playing with intensity, two evenly matched teams battled. Tyson Kamstra poured on the speed, shutting down the Vancouver United striker until a head to face collision sent Kamstra off with an injury. Ash Brooks and Mattias Hartman battled with support of the midfield. Kazimer stepped in for fullback and he and Hinds supported the forwards as they battled through the crowded midfield. A pass into the box was headed in by Collins to break the tie late in the first half. As Vancouver pummeled the net late in the game, Ruscheinsky made save after spectacular save to keep the shutout in the 1-0 win, putting Vernon into the gold medal game on Sunday against the Nelson Selects.
Vernon played great possession ball and started with shots on net early in the game. Nelson’s goalie was amazing, keeping the game tight. Late in the first half, Kamstra sent a bullet shot from mid-half to break the shutout. Within two minutes of the second half, Acob sent a pass to Huntington, who headed it past the Nelson keeper for the insurance goal.