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Dream of playing for Whitecaps comes true for B.C. goalkeeper from Okanagan

Isaac Boehmer of Okanagan Falls was called in to take over the Whitecaps’ net halfway through a game on Wednesday. Then, on Sunday, he played the full 90 minutes. Vancouver Whitecaps

Since he was old enough to kick a ball, Isaac Boehmer has dreamed of playing soccer with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

That dream came true in a big way for the 20-year-old from Okanagan Falls, B.C., who has now played a half and a full game in net for the MLS team.

Speaking by phone after his first start in the second half of a game against Cincinnati, Boehmer described the initial experience as almost surreal.

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“It’s kind of crazy that it’s so loud in the stadium, but the minute I stepped on the field and as soon as the whistle blew, I didn’t hear anything,” said Boehmer, who grew up in the Penticton Pinnacles junior program until being picked up by the Whitecaps when he was still in his teenage years.

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“It was exciting. I didn’t find out until halftime and there was a little bit of nerves, but I felt composed like I am in those positions. I was very relaxed, it was exciting and it was fun.

“You never know when your chance is going to come, so you just always have to be ready and, as we see, anything can happen.”

Boehmer took over in net in the Cincinnati game after starting keeper Cody Cropper suffered a head injury after a collision with a teammate late in the first half. The game, played last Wednesday, finished in a 2-2 draw.

Someone who was especially impressed was Vancouver head coach Vanni Sartini.

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“Isaac was monumental,” Sartini told reporters after the game. “It’s not only the big saves, but for a kid who has never played in the MLS, to be thrown in the middle of this game with a lot of fans, can be overwhelming. We know Isaac is a cool cat and he maintained his composure.”

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Sartini added that a great save late in the half by Boehmer helped set up what turned out to be the tying goal, getting the ’Caps a valuable point.

So when the team learned Cropper could not play Sunday in Portland, Boehmer was an easy choice to start the game.

“Isaac, I think he did very well,” Sartini said after the 1-1 tie against the Timbers. “We told him to keep it simple and he did, playing long balls and command the box, and he made two very good saves.”

The only shot to beat Boehmer was a second-half penalty kick that tied the game.

“I thought I did well, but if I’d waited a second on the penalty, I could have reached back and got it. But that would have been too much of a fairy tale I think,” he said.

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“My focus was just coming in here and playing simple and just doing what I know how to do.”

Boehmer credits his success to his coaches at all levels and the sacrifices by many people over the years, especially his family.

“This was something I wanted to do,” said Boehmer. “It was my dream, but then it kind of grew into the family’s dream.

“Even my teachers (at Penticton Christian School) made sacrifices. Everyone did something to help me get to where I’m at, so the credit is not to me, it’s to so many people.”

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Pinnacles head coach Manuel Borba, his former coach, is one of those on his list.

Borba was especially surprised and pleased when he saw Boehmer step onto the pitch for the first time in Cincinnati.

“He’s a good kid,” said Borba. “He’s stuck to his dream. A lot of kids tell you that, but he really believed it and wanted it and worked really hard, and it’s great to see that a kid who puts in that time to get the opportunity.

“I know Isaac pretty well and he looked pretty nervous, but he just settled in.”

Boehmer is the first member of the Pinnacles to make it to the big leagues, and, according to Borba, it will have a tremendous impact on the current and future young players.

“For local kids, now they have one of their own. Now it’s not a foreign place, but something real,” he said. “They can see that with hard work and determination you can make that dream come true.”

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