There have been a wide variety of scores coming in from Yukon’s four soccer teams competing at National Championships this week at various locations. Unfortunately, none of the scores, ranging from 2-1 to 22-0, have equated to a win for the Yukon Strikers or Yukon Selects soccer clubs.
Of the eight matches played by the four teams, only one goal has been scored for the Yukon.
The Yukon Selects S.C. men’s team playing for the Challenge Cup in Brossard, Quebec, opened the championships with a 2-1 loss to Nova Scotia on Wednesday before a 4-0 loss to Quebec’s Mont Royal Outremont the following day.
“It’s not a bad score,” said Selects midfielder and defenceman Jake Hanson of Thursday’s loss. “It was a winnable game if we had played better.
“We didn’t create enough scoring chances in the game and they started to put more pressure on in the second half.”
The Selects’ goal came at 2-0 with about 15 minutes left in the match when Yukon’s Harrison Kwok sent a cross-field pass to striker Kyle Risby, who headed the ball over the Nova Scotia goalkeeper into the top, far corner.
“They had the win in the first half and looked to be the better team, but we had the win in the second half and were the better team,” said Hanson. “We thought it was a winnable match, we just didn’t execute. Lacking a bit of game play, we allowed those two early goals.”
Without a win in the opening round-robin, the Selects find themselves in the ninth to 12th place pool, with, for example, Yellowknife F.C. and New Brunswick, two other teams to go winless in the opening round-robin.
The Yukon Strikers S.C. U-14 boys team, playing in Newfoundland, have suffered two very different losses. Beginning with a match against Ontario’s Red Lions, the boys lost 22-0 on Wednesday. The team then bounced back to hold Nova Scotia to just three goals in a 3-0 loss on Thursday.
“It was a tough start,” Strikers head coach Ed Van Randen. “Those guys (on Ontario) were fantastic and we weren’t ready. The first game we were a little overawed to see them out there and it’s hard to believe they are the same age as we are.”
Against Nova Scotia, the Strikers were hoping for a tie while down by just one goal at half.
“They played fantastic today; it was a much better game defensively,” said Van Randen. “We talked this morning about how we have to improve, in terms of desire, play on the defensive end of the ball, and the boys really responded and played much better.”
The U-14 boys will continue play Saturday in the bottom pool with NWT, PEI and either Newfoundland or New Brunswick.
“My midfield is really showing up,” said Van Randen. “I’ve been really happy with the play of Brendan Irish. He’s been playing fantastic, as has Alex Hanson and Chris Torgerson – they’ve been playing great in the midfield right now.
“Our goalie Timber Schroff has been exceptional so far. My central defender, Kieran Stacy, really stepped it up today.”
Unlike the boys, the U-14 girls, who are also in Newfoundland, had even scores in their opening matches, losing 11-0 to Quebec’s Le Laser on Wednesday and 11-0 to Nova Scotia on Thursday.
“We played Quebec strongly and kept defensive cover as best as we could,” said head coach Derek Parker. “This is the best team in a tough provincial league, so it was a victory of sorts just to avoid getting scored on every five minutes.”
Their match against Nova Scotia was closer, with only four goals scored in the first half. However, with wind gusts reaching 90 kilometres an hour, Yukon’s goalies had increased difficulty judging incoming shots.
“(Goalies) Mikaela Ponsioen and Sandy Dubois did what they could do to keep the score below 20 goals in the Quebec game,” said Parker. “Many high-quality shots were directed at the net with most of them kept out on account of high-quality goalkeeping. Against Nova Scotia, Mikaela played most of the game with Hannah Milner taking on the last 25 minutes. Both goalies played extremely well under the circumstances. To see the accuracy and power of the best U-14 girls in the country is to understand what a challenge we are facing.”
The Yukon Strikers U-16 girls squad, playing in Lethbridge, Alberta, had the toughest draw of any of the Yukon teams, facing Albert and BC to begin the championships.
“We knew coming into this the first two games would be tough,” said Strikers head coach Charly Kelly. “We looked at the tournament as two tournaments. We had these two games as part of our pool-play, then we have a break tomorrow … and we’re going to come back as if it’s a new tournament.
“Even though we were getting beat, it’s amazing how strong we remained mentally,” she added. “We have a knack for being OK, as long as we are playing the best we can.”
The Strikers took a 21-0 whooping to Alberta on Wednesday but cut the deficit in half with a 10-0 loss to BC on Thursday, playing in “monsoon weather” with fierce rain and wind.
“The field was one big lake,” said Kelly. “As soon as the ball would hit (the ground) it would stop.
“We had a lot of chances at the net – it was great.”
The only territorial team in their tournament, Yukon will likely be in the bottom pool with PEI, the only other team to lose two matches so far in Lethbridge.
“Jaylene Kelly and Emily Wilson have been playing amazingly well on the field,” said Kelly. “Our defensive line – Morgan Paul, Moya Painter, Carolyn Miller and Megan Lanigan – has been great.
“Anna Janowicz, out goalie, kept down the score quite a bit. She made so many amazing saves.”
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