It may have lost the game, but the Yukon junior girls’ soccer team carried itself like gold-medal winners anyway.
After losing the gold ulu 3-0 over Alaska Saturday at Soldotna High School, you might expect the team to be disheartened.
Instead, the girls were thrilled with the way they played, not just in the final game, but also during the entire Arctic Winter Games’ tournament.
And rightly so.
Working together, the girls fought hard against Alaska.
“We weren’t worried about how good they were, we just focused on what we knew how to do,” said Heidi Loos. “Determination and focus were the words we used and we wrote them all over ourselves,” she added pointing to black ink scribbles on her arms and legs.
Another phrase the team drew on its bodies was ‘clean slate.’
“We wrote clean slate because we always have to think the score is 0-0, even if it isn’t,” said Sarah Thompson.
“We knew we had some tough teams coming and we lost our first three games,” said head coach Derric Lewis. “We thought that Nunavut was going to be an easy game, but this year they were a contingent to watch out for. We ended up losing to them which I think is a real testament to Nunavut.”
However, the Yukoners defeated NWT in a close 1-0 game, which was the deciding match that pushed them through to the medal round.
After that, the Yukoners beat the previously undefeated Greenland team, which, they agreed, was the highlight of the Games. That victory pushed them into the gold-medal game.
Heading into the gold-medal final, Lewis tried to tell the girls what brought the team to that point in the first place.
“The girls really showed sacrifice and we didn’t want to see all that effort that we went through in Whitehorse go to waste,” said the coach. “We knew that Alaska would get stronger as the tournament went on and when we played them in the round-robin, we played a very sloppy game, so we wanted to show that we can compete with them. Today, it could have gone either way.”
The difference, he added, was that the Yukoners just couldn’t finish their scoring opportunities.
“We created plenty of scoring chances and I think the girls should hold their heads high. We are coming home with the silver.”
Meanwhile, the junior male team took home bronze after beating Alaska 3-2. The intermediate females finished fourth while the juvenile male and female teams each finished fifth.