Usually losing your starting goalkeeper to an injury in the first game of a tournament spells disaster.
For Yukon’s girls soccer team, it was a blessing in disguise.
The team blanked NWT 2-0 to finish fifth at the Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, BC, on Sunday.
Scoring the game winner, and Yukon’s first goal of the tournament, was starting goalie Samantha Burgis.
“I was very happy,” she said of getting the goal. “It was a good feeling.”
Burgis gave her team the lead by heading the ball off a corner kick in the 25th minute.
The goalie was moved up to a forward position after injuring her hand in the first half of Yukon’s opening match against Alberta, losing 12-0.
“I went for the ball, I jammed my fingers and then I fell on them,” said Burgis. “I sprained all four.”
Burgis took up position in net two seasons ago after years of playing defence. She only played a little forward for the first time this year.
“We played very well, kept strong – it was great to win,” said Burgis. “We played together as a team and everyone played well.
“It was a good experience, it was good to get out there to show we can play,” she added of the Games.
Burgis’ move to forward meant a fair bit of juggling with the lines, moving forwards to backs, but it also meant putting Jaylene Kelly in net for just the third time. Not only did she get the win, she got the Yukon’s first shutout in years at a major Games.
“Sam (Burgis) played a very good game, but the flip side of that is Jaylene Kelly going in and playing goalie when she’s not a goalie,” said Yukon head coach John MacPhail. “She did really well, especially against teams like Manitoba.
“Jaylene stepping in is huge – and she did it with a smile on her face. She can play it because she’s an amazing athlete.”
“She did unreal; she showed me up,” added Burgis.
Getting Yukon’s second goal was Janelle Cousins in the 56th minute on a penalty kick resulting from a collision in front of the NWT net, slamming the shot into the bottom corner.
His team was hungry for the victory, said MacPhail.
“We talked about being able to win one,” he said. “The girls said, ‘We don’t want to come home and say we were in last place.’
“They gathered up themselves and I overheard a little of the conversation, and that’s what they were talking about.”
MacPhail remembers the 2009 Canada Summer Games in PEI, when his Yukon girls team – a different team from the Westerns – lost in the final minutes against NWT after not allowing a shot on goal throughout the second half.
“I talked to them today and told them I don’t want to lose to NWT – please,” said MacPhail. “I asked them a favour.”
After the lopsided shutout against Alberta on Friday, the Yukon girls lost 7-0 to Manitoba on Saturday.
“We were out of our league, but it teaches them, if we go to Canada Games or nationals, just how good some of these girls are, so they’re not so surprised when they get there,” said MacPhail. “Hopefully we’ll keep this team together for the Canada Games and they’ll have a sense of what Alberta, BC and Ontario can do.
“One of the girls said to me, ‘Now I know what real soccer is all about.’ It was kind of a neat comment.”
In the same situation as the girls, playing for fifth, the Yukon boys team downed NWT 4-1 to end the Games. (See coverage of the boys’ game on page 27.)
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