Men’s Challenge soccer club has tough weekend but help on the way

Two Kelowna soccer players will return this week to shore up the defense

It was a tough start to the Pacific Coast Soccer League season for the Okanagan Challenge on the weekend, but help is on the way in the form of two stand-out defenders.

The Challenge opened its PCSL season on the coast, dropping a 5-2 decision on Saturday to Khalsa Sporting Club before losing 5-0 to Bellingham United on Sunday.

Coach Dante Zanatta said the team struggled to defend its own zone in both games.

“Going into the weekend we were missing three of our starting back four and two centre-back players,” he said. “It was a bit of a makeshift defending lineup. Inexperience and non-familiarity playing with each other caused a lot of problems.”

Two Kelowna players are expected to arrive back in town this week and should provide some stability with defenders Carson Gill and and Joel Malouf both set to arrive in Kelowna from Simon Fraser University before the Challenge play its next game.

Austin Jones and Logan Abbott had the two goals for the Challenge on the weekend and despite what appeared to be two lopsided losses, Zanatta says there are some positives to take from the opening weekend.

“The reality is we didn’t defend well,” he said. “That is not indicative of the teams I have coached in the past. There were some positives. Guys have gone through the first weekend and they know the pace of the league. They know they have to apply themselves going forward. We have guys that can score but when you miss the central part of your defense, we were exposed.”

The Challenge will head back to the coast for a single game this weekend, playing Port Coquitlam before hosting Bellingham on May 26 in its home opener.

“The guys battled through the weekend and did some good things,” said Zanatta. “We just have to be a lot more confident and defend with more purpose.”

Okanagan FC – Women

The Okanagan Football Club fell to 1-and-1 on the season in the PCSL premier women’s division after a home-field loss on Saturday to the Victoria-based Peninsula Co-op.

Okanagan fell 3-1 to Peninsula Saturday at UBCO Okanagan as Kyra-Rae Horvath scored the lone goal for the home team.

Okanagan FC hosts Fraser Valley at UBCO this Saturday.

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