A thrilling second-half comeback came up just short for the youthful Penticton Tim Hortons Pinnacles.
Nico Kaal scored twice and Micah Smoak added his team-leading fourth goal as the Pinnacles dropped a 5-3 decision to Vancouver FC Tigers in Pacific Coast Soccer League Premier Men’s Division play Saturday at King’s Park.
The Pinnacles (3-3-0) trailed 4-0 before mounting the comeback that saw them pull within 4-3 and hit a post with a bid for the equalizer in the late stages.
“The second half is something to build on,” said Pinnacles assistant coach Manuel Borba. “The young guys are learning the intensity you’ve got to have to compete at this level.”
The Pinnacles had several great chances early to build a lead but the visitors scored against the run of play and took a 3-0 cushion into the break.
It was 4-0 before head coach Chris Bennett made some tactical changes, moving veteran Bjorn Borren into the middle with youngster Joaquim Borba, and shifting speedsters Kaal and James Hill to the wings.
“We pressured them all over the pitch and forced them into mistakes,” said Borba. “We pushed our big centre back (Owen Tworkowski) forward in the last five minutes and they caught us on the break to get their (fifth) goal.”
Jared Horvath was in goal for the Pinnacles.
The Pinnacles were without some key veteran players including top striker James Fraser (hamstring) and Connor Hawley (one-game suspension). Jordell Afonso played the first 25 minutes before reinjuring his bothersome shoulder.
“We should get most of the guys back for the next game,” said Borba.
Borba noted the Pinnacles could have opened up some breathing room on the chasing pack for a playoff spot. The Tigers got to 2-3-2 with the win, while Okanagan FC (2-3-1) edged closer despite being held to a 0-0 tie at home by last-place Mid-Isle Mariners at Kelowna’s Apple Bowl.
“We’re still sitting in a playoff spot, we’re still in the hunt with some of our key guys coming back,” said Borba. “The great thing is the fans are really enjoying our games … it’s been a fast and exciting and entertaining brand of soccer. Obviously it would have been nice to be on the other end of the score in this game, but we’re headed in the right direction.”
The Pinnacles play their next three on the road including a challenging test this Saturday as they take on unbeaten Surrey United (4-0-1).
OLDTIMERS: Carlos Mendonca scored twice and Tony Munoz one as Penticton TCA edged Silver Stars 3-2 in Capri Okanagan Oldtimers’ Soccer League 55-and-over division play Thursday at Rosewood Sport Field.
Penticton moved into a first-place tie with idle Brown Benefits 55, both at 6-0-2. Penticton is technically in first with plus-25 goal difference compared to plus-21 for Brown.
Steve Coombs and Paul McCardle scored for Silver Stars.
Penticton gets a good test this Thursday as they play the Raiders (5-2-1) at Rosewood.