Whitehorse’s Green Giants soccer team, sponsored by Real Foods, looked to have eaten their veggies prior to the finals of the fourth annual May Whitehorse Invitational 35-and-over Men’s Indoor Soccer Tournament.
The Giants took the championship title with a 3-1 win over Whitehorse’s Blue Beards at the Canada Games Centre on Sunday.
“I don’t think we were expecting to come out on top,” said Green Giants captain Brad Martin. “I don’t think we were as talented as some of the other teams, but we had hard workers and guys that could put the ball in the net at really critical times. We had good goalies throughout as well.”
The Blue Beards looked on their way to locking up the title, drawing first blood on goal from Simon Pulido at the end of the first half, booting in a rebound from within the goal box. However, the Giants raised the stature of their play in the second, with two goals from Phil Jackson, redirecting a long, up-field pass from Adil Khalik around the Beards’ charging goalkeeper for the game winner. Khalik later put a rocket of a shot in to make it 3-1 late in the game.
“Phil is a great goal scorer,” said Martin. “He’s really quick, he’s got a hard shot, he can find the corners and he’s always reliable to get break-a-way goals at key moments. Throughout the tournament he got key goals and put games away for us.”
The Giants’ narrow victory came right after a more lopsided 5-2 win over the Blue Beards the previous evening to end the round-robin section of the tournament.
“We were in the final, and when you play in the final you try harder,” said Blue Beard captain Victor Lavanderos, who was awarded the tourney’s Golden Boot with 11 goals. “(Last night) we were tired and we already qualified for the finals. You don’t want to take it easy, but in everybody’s minds we’ve slowed it down a little bit. Today we gave it our best and it was a good game.”
“Last night they took it easy on us, they already knew they were in the finals; they didn’t play as hard as they could have,” said Martin. “Today I think they had more chances than we did, but we played well defensively and we countered their attacks pretty well. So it worked out well.”
Taking the bronze was the defending champion team from Juneau, beating Whitehorse’s Arctic Red team 5-1.
“I think it was a combination of fatigue – this was our fifth game this weekend so we were tired – and, quite honestly, the Juneau team had a lot of strong players,” said Arctic Red captain Justine Carre.
“And we just didn’t get enough shots. Some were on target, but they just weren’t finding the corners. But mainly, it was tiredness.”
Fatigue indeed looked to be a possible factor for the loss considering Arctic Red had beaten Juneau 2-1 early in the round-robin portion of the tournament.
“That was the closer game, today they really took it to us,” said Carre. “All credit to our team, we tried our best both games. Chris Stacey had an outstanding tournament and Joe Morrison got two goals, which was great, and all the other guys played their hearts out.”
Taking fifth in the tournament were Whitehorse’s Sun Dogs, which included two Dawson City players and was captained by Whitehorse’s Jake Hanson.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org