Goalie Rakochy finds magic touch, twice
Jeff Rakochy has seen many days as a soccer goalie but never had he won backto-back championships with two different teams on the same day.
Minutes after backstopping a 4-2 win for the McQuick Gunners over the Great Canadian Bank Reds in the Prince George Soccer Association 45-plus men’s division Saturday afternoon on a rain-soaked North Cariboo Field, Rakochy, was back between the pipes playing for Subway in the Men’s Open Division championship.
Rakochy won that one as well, coming up with another brilliant display of netminding to help his team pull off a surprising 3-2 win over PG Dome, the heavily-favoured champions of the regular season.
“I tried last year, I won one and lost the final in the Div. 1 (open division) final when I played for PG Dome – obviously today was a good day,” said the 42-year-old Rakochy, who played two seasons for UNBC in the early 2000s, just before the T-wolves joined the B.C. college league.
“To play with the old boys that I’ve been playing with for a long time and to pull off the win as a bit of an underdog, it worked out well. We had some subs and that made a big difference.
“Then in the second game, (PG Dome) had a lot of subs and we went up two goals and their bench added to the games and they started getting pretty good pressure on us, but we just dug our heels in and played smart. The guys adjusted to the wet conditions and a bit of wind in our faces for the second half and we kind of prepared ourselves for that.”
Rakochy set the tone early in the open final when he dove at the last minute to take away a shot from Madeiros that was dipping down into the net.
“I picked it up really late and I caught it on the goal line and it bounced off my shins back towards the goal line,” said Rakochy.
“When you make a save early in a game it kind of lifts you up and you know your radar’s on so I just carried through with that.”
Cheona Edzerza’s second penalty-shot goal of the game in the 70th minute proved the difference. Edzerza booted a low shot that skipped off the turf past the feet of goalie Emerson Secor.
But there was still plenty of time and PG Dome made it difficult for Rakochy the rest of the game. Cayle Davidson rapped a shot of the crossbar and so did his teammate, Jon Lafontaine. The save of the game came not long after that.
Racochy’s anticipation coming out 25 yards to block a shot from Josh McAvoy was a real showstopper.
Subway started with just one spare player and when star striker Matt Jubinville left the game late in the first half with a wrenched neck and his team clinging to a 2-0 lead it seemed only a matter of time before PG Dome would start finding the net, which they did.
Early in the second half McAvoy missed the net high on a penalty shot and not long after that Joao Medeiros took a long sideline pass from Connor Lewis and kicked the ball past Racochy to cut the lead in half. PG Dome tied it a few minutes later when Davidson made good on his penalty shot.
Subway went 0-3 in the regular season against PG Dome but added some lateseason recruits and they made a difference in the final.
“They came out in the first half really hard and we had to try to battle back and it’s tough trying to play catch-up soccer,” said Lafontaine. “They have a couple of exUNBC guys out there (Jubinville, Edzerza, Brett Bobier and Liam Stewart).
“I think we outchanced them in the second half quite a bit and Jeff stood on his head and made three or four gamebreaking saves at the end of the game there. Four penalty shot in a final, that doesn’t happen very often in a final.”
Jubinville, the playoff MVP with eight goals in three games, gave Subway the early lead early lead, which Edzerza added to with his first penalty shot. In the game, referee Carlos Hernandez called two penalty shots in each team.
In the 45-plus men’s final, the Gunners claimed their fifth straight playoff championship. Craig Christie scored two goals, while Tien Mueller and Travis Sillence, with the gamewinner, also scored. Graham Hancock and Merv Skulsh found the net for the Reds, who captured the regular season crown.
“Our guys know how to win when it comes to playoff time,” said Christie, a 56-year-old midfielder.
“We might be the oldest team in the league. We had five of six subs and that’s where you get your energy. We just have this camaraderie and when push comes to shove and we have all the guys show up we just find a way to win.”
Subway (white) took on PG Dome in the Prince George Soccer Association’s Division 1 men’s final on Saturday afternoon at North Cariboo Field.