It was a tough final week of the regular season for Ponoka’s senior men’s soccer squad.
Ponoka FC defeated Stettler on Wednesday, Aug. 3 by a 2-1 score at Lucas Heights field before drawing 5-5 with Wetaskiwin’s Diablos on Aug. 6 also on home field, before having to forfeit their final game of the season versus league leading Manluk of Wetaskiwin Aug. 7.
Despite having to give away points, Ponoka FC finished up in second place in the Battle River Men’s Soccer League with a record of six wins, four losses and two ties. Ponoka FC will now host Stettler in one league semi-final this weekend.
“(Sunday’s game in Wetaskiwin) would have been the team’s fourth game one week and rather than play another match shorthanded, creating further risk of injury, the decision was made to forfeit,” explained Ponoka FC manager Michelle Blanchette.
Any result of the game would’ve made no difference to the final standings, as Manluk ended up the season with a 10-0-2 record, while Stettler stayed in third at 5-6-1.
Last Wednesday’s victory, a match rescheduled from May, saw Ponoka’s Lewis McDowell notch both goals for the locals in a game that was marked by some outstanding saves from the Stettler goalkeeper in spite of Ponoka’s constant pounding throughout the game.
Stettler crept to within a goal in the second half on a beautiful free kick, but Ponoka’s ball control gave the visitors very little opportunity the rest of the way.
The draw last Saturday against Diablos was a completely different match, which saw several players on both sides cautioned with one on each side shown red cards after the match for what could only be described as unsportsmanlike comments and actions after the final whistle.
Eric Ehscheid scored a pair for Ponoka FC with the other goals coming from Gurjit Sandhu, Lewis McDowell and Elzard Visscher. Ehscheid went down late in the first half with a knee injury, leaving the home town squad with just one substitute, which ended up making a difference in the second half. Diablos scored three times including on a penalty, forcing Ponoka to push the pace a bit more in order to earn a tie.
And the second half was a rough and tumble affair as compared to the opening 45 minutes, with the referee issuing several yellow cards for some dangerous tackles from behind and even having to stop play at one point to call both captains together in order to read them the riot act about getting their teams under control and stick to soccer.
The chat only kept the temperature just below the boiling point for the match’s final 15 minutes, with one player on each team earning a red card at the end of the game for their actions when both squads had to be separated by the officials before things really deteriorated.
Ponoka’s semi-final will take place at Lucas Height east soccer pitch on Sunday, Aug. 14 with kick off scheduled for 3 p.m. A victory for Ponoka FC will give them a shot at a third straight Battle River Cup, with the final set for Sunday, Aug. 21 as a site yet to be determined.