During the halftime break in Yukon’s opener against Quebec, there was a definite buzz in the crowd at CARI Complex soccer field here. Translated, it boiled down to this: What the heck?!
Against Quebec, the pre-tournament favourite with six players on the U-17 national team, Yukon kept the game scoreless in the first half. However, early in the second, in minutes 52 and 53, Quebec twice broke through the Yukon defence to score, eventually taking the game 3-0.
“They couldn’t wait to get on the field for the second half and they couldn’t believe it when Quebec got those two quick goals,” said Yukon men’s head soccer coach Jake Hansen. “Just in that short period of time they were able to get a couple guys through.”
“Nothing (changed), I really can’t key into something, they were just great runs. That’s what great teams do, they capitalize on what looks like half-chances.”
It was a similar story in Yukon’s following game against Nova Scotia on Tuesday.
After allowing a goal late in the first, Nova Scotia managed to put two in the back of the Yukon net – on their first two second-half shots – within just four minutes of the start of the half. Yukon held them off from that point, but fell 3-0.
“It’s probably mostly a mental thing,” said Yukon captain Cody Reaume. “We come out into the games at the start thinking we can’t let them score and keep the score low. I don’t know what it is, maybe we’re thinking to score more in the second half.”
Things could have been very different against Quebec, with Yukon’s Coty Frazer getting a pair of small breaks and just missing the net twice in the first five minutes of the game.
“Coty hasn’t played much striker for us, but we needed him to do the job for us today,” said Hansen. “I think it really inspired our team, realizing we’re going to have chances to score.
“Unfortunately we didn’t capitalize on one of those because it could have potentially changed the complexity of the game.”
The two early Yukon chances didn’t just catch spectators by surprise, but the Quebec team too, said head coach Phillippe Eullaffroy.
“We were a bit lucky because the first scoring opportunities came from the Yukon,” Eullaffroy. “We changed the positioning of the players on the pitch.
“It says to our players that no game will be easy.”
With so many dangerous players on the Quebec squad, the Yukon played a very defensive game, which forced Quebec to adjust their game.
“But after 15 or 20 minutes, yes, I was surprised. We didn’t know how to play against the Yukon team because it’s new for our players to play against a team playing 10 (players) behind the ball – it was a bit tricky for us,” said Eullaffroy.
Yukon’s next game will take place on Thursday in crossover-playdowns and will face either New Brunswick, Newfoundland or Saskatchewan.
If nothing else, the two losses have highlighted some loose ends in the Yukon play, such as remaining collected when opportunities present themselves.
“Our biggest thing is finishing,” said Reaume. “We haven’t had many chances against these teams, but we’ve had a few and we haven’t been able to put it in the back of the net. Something we have to focus on is being calm in their box.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org