For Okanagan FC and soccer fans across the valley, there were high expectations for Kelowna’s return to the Pacific Coast Soccer League.
Now, those expectations are being put to the test as OKFC sit only two points behind in the race for the fourth and final playoff spot. With only four games remaining in the season and all four games remaining to be played on OKFC’s home turf, the team’s fate is in their own hands.
“Our group is experienced and disciplined,” said coach Andrew Stevenson.
“As much as I would like to give them a good kick-in-the-ass before these final games, they know what they need to do, and they’re hungry.”
OKFC lost both their games this past weekend, suffering a 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Tigers and a 3-1 loss to New Westminster’s Khalsa Club at July 7’s home game. The lack of points over the two-game stretch drops OKFC to fifth place in the league, making the points in the last games of the season all that more important.
In the last four games of the season, OKFC will play the top four teams in the league, starting with the Kamloops Wolfpack on Saturday afternoon.
“Every single game is going to be high stakes and great intensity,” said Stevenson. “We’re all excited for it.”
“These high pressure situations will be good for the home fans, but going in we will need to me more clinical in taking our scoring chances and will need to avoid defensive lapses of concentration. Mistakes get punished in this league and we will need to be focused from minute one to the final whistle.”
OKFC’s Shaun Pilcher, Christian Artavia and Markus Roth netted the goals for the Kelowna club over the weekend games, but the offense left plenty of chances on the field. Concentration lapses and getting caught on their heels were the biggest contributing factors that led to both losses and the drop from a playoff spot.
Stevenson said that one of the driving factors for the club heading into the final games is to make it up to the home fans after the home loss on the weekend.
“The team is determined to put right what happened on Sunday in front of our fans. These games will decide who’s in the driver’s seat for the final playoff spot, and we hope (the fans) will be fired up come Saturday,” he said.
Okanagan FC hosts Kamloops on July 13 at 4 p.m., and Victoria on July 14 at 12 p.m., with both games being played at Kelowna’s Apple Bowl.
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