The Dawson City Lions’ road to gold started long before the first whistle or even their flight to B.C.
It began with fundraising efforts weeks ago.
“We did grocery bagging to auctions to bottle drives to lemonade stands, and every kid participated and worked for this,” said Lions coach Johnny Nunan. “So the lesson is, you put hard work in and then you’re going to be rewarded.”
The Lions were rewarded indeed. The under-11 team went undefeated to win gold at the Pitt Meadows West Coast Cup last week.
Making the trip all the more special, the Lions squad was the first all-girls soccer team to represent Dawson outside the territory in a tournament. The squad was made up of 11 players from Dawson, two from Whitehorse and one from Victoria, B.C.
“We had never played together as a team … and we kind of destroyed them,” said Nunan.
“The girls are pretty young, so I wanted to teach them what it means to be a team and how you come together and travel together … and all that kind of stuff, and the kids were amazing. Every one of them was a superstar.”
The Lions, who also took in a Vancouver Whitecaps match and a Team Canada World Cup qualifying match while in Vancouver, opened the tournament with a 1-1 tie against the Maple Ridge Celtics U13 squad.
Then they really found their stride with a 7-0 win over Maple Ridge FC Peacocks (U12), an 8-0 win over the Maple Ridge Peacocks (U12) and another 8-0 win over the Maple Ridge Strikers (U13) in the final on Labour Day.
“Everyone wants to score a goal, but not everyone can score a goal. So some kids were assigned positions and they didn’t grumble, they went into those positions and played their heart out,” said Nunan. “A B.C. Soccer guy said to me he couldn’t believe how stuck-in my kids were. In other words, they went for the ball, tried their best, and for every player it was that scenario.”
Not all players could score goals, but a lot sure did. The Lions had eight different scorers in the four matches.
Paige Forester and Teagan Ewing both had five goals, Beez Duncan had four, Francesca Nunan had three, Claire Bandy, Victoria Watson and Mia Raymond each had two, and River McGlaughlin one.
“My three all-stars were Jesse Amos, Tess Crocker and Stevie Bishop,” added Johnny. “They all wanted to go out and score goals but they realized someone had to stay back and they were a wall. We had one goal scored on us. I think in game three they didn’t even have a shot against us. That’s how good the defence played.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org