A four-peat at the Alaska Airlines Cup just wasn’t in the cards for the Yukon Strikers Selects.
The team, who won divisions at the Anchorage tournament the last three years, instead came away with a third-place finish on Saturday.
“All and all I think everything went great. They’re a young group of guys for the age group we were in – they are all ‘03 and the teams we were playing were all ‘02 – and that year difference at this age and this level makes a big difference,” said Selects coach Ash Jordan. “We have a smaller team, but we’re really fast and really skilled. We stood up to them quite well.”
The Selects went 1-1-1 in the round robin before a semifinal loss dropped them in the third-place spot.
They finished with a 6-3 loss to Anchorage’s KPSC Thunder. Ben Kishchuk, Andreas Lavenderos and Nathan Sculley scored for Yukon in the match.
Though younger, they showed that a win over the Thunder was indeed a possibility. The Selects opened the tournament Friday with a 4-4 draw with Thunder after dropping a 4-1 lead. Yukon’s Joe Hanson scored two while Ashton Bryant and Kishchuk added singles.
The Selects then took a tight 2-1 loss to the Anchorage Eclipse. Hanson booted one in to prevent a shutout.
Yukon then ran off with a 5-1 win over the Fairbanks Rush in their final round robin match Saturday morning. The usual suspects – Sculley, Lavenderos, Bryant, Kishchuk and Hanson – each scored.
“Ivan Johnson and Alvaro Diaz played full-back for us. They’re both younger guys, don’t have a lot of competitive experience, but they both did exactly what we wanted, stepped up and played so strong,” said Jordan. “It made a big impact in every single game, having those guys there.”
The Strikers Selects weren’t the only Yukoners at the tourney playing older competition.
A U17 squad of Yukoners being groomed to represent the territory at next year’s Western Canada Summer Games competed in the U19 boys division.
They went winless in four matches, but with two one-goal losses.
“Their performance was quite impressive for a team that just got together,” said Yukon coach Edgar Musonda. “Our biggest weakness was attacking, otherwise the boys looked really confident and quite matured in terms of the play and the thought process in the system we’re using.”
Yukon started with a 2-0 loss to Cook Inlet – the eventual champs – before a 3-2 loss to the Alaska Fugees. They then took a 5-2 loss to another Cook Inlet squad, and finally a 1-0 loss to Fairbanks Rush, the second-place finishers.
Simon Kishchuk, Matthias Hoenisch, Dawson Weir and guest player Ben Campbell all scored for Yukon.
“We’re using a 4-4-2 formation, which is four defenders, four midfielders and two attackers,” said Musonda. “Because we had a very good midfield and defence, our attack was a little bit weak, which reduced our chance to get goals.
“Having said that, the two boys who played striker – mostly Dawson Weir and Simon Kishchuk – were converted from midfielders to attackers.”
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