The beauty of team sports is that the sum of skill on a team is not always the determining factor of its success as much as its ability to play as a cohesive unit.
That was the case for the Yukon Brewing Football Club at the Penticton Soccer Club Old-timers Thanksgiving Invitational over the weekend in Penticton, BC.
“A couple things helped us compete and one of those was our fitness – we were probably the fittest team there,” said Brewing F.C. captain Brad Martin. “We weren’t the most skillful, even though I think we compared pretty well on that level too.
“Going down we knew, if we going to have any success, we were going to have to focus on playing as a team – an organized, discipline game. Our sense was we might be outmatched skill wise, but if we played well as a unit we could compensate for that, and I think that’s what happened to a certain extent.”
The newly formed 35-plus men’s team went three-for-four at the tournament, defeating the hosting Penticton Soccer Club 2-1 in a shootout in the finals to capture gold.
After four successful shots from both teams in the shootout, Brewing goalkeeper Patrick Jackson made a save before teammate Guiliano Rayo scored to clinch the game for his team. Brewing’s regulation goal came from Chris Ross, sweeping the ball in on a sharp angle after a free-kick out of the corner.
“They are a perennial winner, not only of this tournament but a number of other tournaments,” said Martin. “They hadn’t lost in a couple years, so they’re a very strong team.
“We were a little uncertain how we could compete. Once we got through that first half we figured out we could compete with them and at that point our confidence started to grow.”
Brewing F.C. began the tournament defeating a team from Calgary 4-0, with goals from Ross, Justin Carre and two from Phil Jackson. In the match Brewing accumulated the maximum points in the system to determine finalists, getting six points for the win, three additional points for scoring three more goals than Calgary, plus a bonus point for the shutout.
After suffering a 1-0 shutout against the Penticton team they would go on to beat in the finals, Brewing faced another Penticton squad, winning 5-3. In the game Martin opened the scoring on a penalty shot, which was followed by two goals from Phil Jackson, and individual ones from Carre and Victor Lavanderos.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Martin. “We heard stories of how competitive it was, we knew the Okanagan was a hotbed for soccer in BC and western Canada, so we thought competition was going to be stiff.
“After that first game in particular, we knew we could compete with any teams that were in the tournament.”
Brewing F.C. is, with a few additions and subtractions, basically the Whitehorse Rapids, over-35 men’s team that won the Whitehorse Senior Metro Men’s Soccer League title at the start of August. With a new sponsor committed to helping the team over the next few seasons, the team is hoping for more big wins in the future.
“One of the things that has been really important in pulling us together as a team has been the support of Yukon Brewing,” said Martin. “They provided us with brand new uniforms, gear, and made a commitment to the team to support us for the next three years.”
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