Four of the Yukon’s five soccer teams are on track to make the playoffs at the Arctic Winter Games this week at the Canada Games Centre.
As of Thursday at noon, the Yukon’s junior male players had finished second in the round-robin after a 8-3 loss to Yamal. They will be playing in a semifinal Friday at 5 p.m. against an opponent yet to be determined.
“Each opponent is different,” said Yukon junior male coach Derric Lewis. “That’s the beauty of the Arctic Games, each team offers a different challenge and a different style.
“So sometimes we’ve played really well and sometimes we’ve just hung on. But the most important thing is we’ve got the results.”
The Yukon’s junior males defeated N.W.T. 2-1 to open the Games, then trounced Nunavut 12-1 on Tuesday and tied Greenland 3-3 Wednesday evening.
They also defeated Alaska 4-2 on Wednesday, but had a tight second half, letting a 3-0 lead turn into a 3-2 one.
“We play very well for a period of time and then we lose our focus for a bit, then regain it,” said Lewis. “I think all sports are like that … You’re in the lead comfortably and then the nerves kick in and the other team gets on a bit of a roll. It gets tight for the athletes and they lose their focus for a bit.”
Defenceman Mike Amirault got the game-winners against N.W.T. and Alaska. Lewis has enjoyed seeing his defenders getting on the scoreboard.
“Marten Sealy, one of our defenders, has been coming out of the back end and jumping in a fair bit and scoring,” said Lewis. “Michael Amirault is another who’s been jumping out of the back end and scoring.
“Michael Wintermute and Andrew Scoffin – they’re forwards – have been putting the ball in the back of the net.
“I like having teams that are balanced, where we’re not just dependent on one player.”
The Yukon’s junior female team is undefeated after its first two matches, defeating N.W.T. 5-0 to start the Games and Nunavut 11-2 on Tuesday. As of Thursday, the Yukon’s Camille Galloway, Megan Lanigan and Brittany Milner were the top three high-scorers in the tournament.
The team is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs on Friday.
Going into its match against N.W.T. on Thursday afternoon, the Yukon’s juvenile female team had a 2-1 record. It beat Nunavut 12-0 and Alaska 7-2 before losing 3-0 to Alberta North.
The Yukon crew will play in one of two semifinal matches Friday morning.
With Nunavut winless in intermediate female, the Yukon’s team is guaranteed a spot in Friday’s playoffs. The Yukon won its first two matches, 12-0 over Nunavut and 2-1 over N.W.T., but lost 3-1 to Sapmi on Wednesday.
The Yukon’s juvenile male squad, competing in the largest soccer division, have a 1-3 record going into Thursday’s match against Greenland. Its one win was 7-2 triumph over Nunavut. It will need to defeat Greenland Thursday afternoon, and N.W.T. will have to lose its match to Nunavut, for it to have a chance to make Friday’s playoffs.
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