Two Yukon soccer teams were flying high at the 2013 Alaska Airlines Cup over the weekend in Anchorage.
The Yukon Selects U11 boys team went undefeated to win gold and the Selects men’s team lost in the final of the open men’s division to take silver.
The U11 Selects completely dominated their division, out-scoring the competition 41-4 over six matches. All 10 players on the Yukon squad contributed goals during the tournament.
“The boys are really strong,” said Jake Hanson, the coach for both teams. “It’s a really talented group of boys and are really keen and committed to their sport for quite a few years.”
The U11 Selects scored gold with a 7-1 win over Anchorage’s Alaska Rush in the final. Joe Hanson had a hat trick in the game while teammates Andreas Lavanderos, Jason Sealy, Lowell DeCook and Ashton Bryant also scored.
The Selects cruised into the final with a 6-0 win over Fairbanks’ Eclipse Phoenix.
Yukon’s Kaelen Lewis scored twice while Ben Kishchuk, Rhys Faragher and Lavanderos each put individual goals on the board. (Fairbanks put the ball in their own net for the seventh goal.)
Other wins for the Selects were 7-0 over Eclipse Phoenix, 11-1 over Kenai Peninsula, 5-0 over Alaska Rush and 5-2 over Cook Inlet Celocity in the round-robin.
The gold medal was the result of years of dedication, said Jake.
“All the boys have been in pretty regular training programs since they were five, six years old through the YSA (Yukon Soccer Association),” he said. “The YSA started a youth academy as part of the club and these guys were the very first in it when we started it at U8. They’ve benefited from the training and the coaching in addition to playing Whitehorse Minor Soccer.
“Some of them are starting to get into U12 Strikers (representative club) program. So they are getting lots of opportunity to play good soccer. I think that’s the big thing.”
The team’s three shutouts in Anchorage had a lot to do with Haines Junction’s Callum Weir, the only non-Whitehorse player on the team. Weir was in net for 11 of the team’s 12 halves at the Cup and also registered a goal against Kenai Peninsula.
“He’s probably posted to date as many shutouts as non-shutouts,” said Jake.
Joe Hanson and Lavanderos finished the tournament with a total of eight goals each. Kishchuk ended with six goals and Lewis and DeCook with four.
The U11 Selects placed third at the Whitecaps Showcase tourney in Vancouver this past April.
The two-time Alaska state champion men’s team was the only team to defeat the Selects men at the Cup.
The Selects lost 3-1 to Anchorage’s Alaska United in the final on Sunday. The Yukon team got on the board with a goal from Whitehorse’s Marten Sealy on a penalty shot.
The Selects finished the round-robin with a 1-0 loss to Alaska United Sunday morning.
“They’re kind of the powerhouse in Alaska right now,” said Jake. “Those were two really good games.”
The Yukon men’s team opened the tournament with three straight shutouts with goalkeep Theron Richards in net.
They went 6-0 over Fairbanks’ Eclipse Phoenix Friday, 1-0 over the Anchorage’s Young Guns and 3-0 over Anchorage’s Alaska Rush on Saturday.
Marten Sealy got the game-winner in the tight 1-0 win over the Young Guns.
Players from both Yukon teams participated in identification camps in Anchorage and Palmer the week before the Alaska Airlines Cup.
A handful of them caught the eye of American coaches.
“We have four boys (Joe Hanson, Jason Sealy, Kishchuk and Faragher) who will probably play for the top club in Alaska in a tournament in July in Seattle – the Crossfire Premier Cup,” said Jake. “One of the camps was a college ID camp with 12 coaches up from the lower 48.
“One of our Canada Games players, Marten Sealy in the older category, was getting interest from some of the coaches. I don’t think there’s a scholarship offer at this point, but he definitely had a good week and garnered the interest of the coaches there.”
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