Just before jolly ol’ Saint Nick made his rounds, many of Yukon’s top soccer players delivered their own gift to Whitehorse soccer fans.
Yukon Selects and Total Soccer Excellence Academy players, including former Team Yukon members and post-secondary players, gave the gift of high-octane play in the Yukon Selects Annual Christmas Soccer Showcase on Dec. 23 at the Canada Games Centre.
Fans were treated to three close matches – two of which ended in ties.
The one that didn’t end in a draw was between the Women’s Selects and the Total Soccer Excellence Academy Girls All-Stars, with the latter taking a 2-1 win.
The Academy’s goals came from Megan Lanigan, who plays for the University of Victoria, and Camille Galloway, who plays for the University of British Columbia-Okanagan.
Jaylene Kelly scored for the Selects in the second half. All three played for Team Yukon at 2013 Canada Summer Games in Quebec.
Returning home to play with old teammates was a real nostalgic treat, said Selects goalkeeper Sam Burgis, who also plays for UBC Okanagan.
“This is where I started playing soccer and where I first started loving the game,” said Burgis. “It’s nice to be reminded of the first time I played and how much fun it was. It was nice having the home crowd and everything.”
After a 5-0 blowout for the Men’s Yukon Selects at last year’s showcase, the TSE Academy All-Stars kept it close this time with a 1-1 tie in the men’s match.
Academy’s Kurtis Hills, who plays for Grant MacEwan University, scored early in the second half on a free kick. Selects’ Dominic Korn, another UBC Okanagan player, found the top corner to even it up with five minutes left.
“It’s fun to play with my friends that I played with for a long time,” said Academy’s Callum Wood-Ryan. “It was a good competitive game – last year we didn’t do too good. It was a big improvement.”
Between the two adult matches, the Junior Striker Selects boys 2001-2003 team split in two for an inter-squad match, ending in a 2-2 tie.
Goals came from Rhys Faragher, Jake Charlton, Ben Kishchuk and Joe Hanson, who currently plays with U.S. Youth Soccer’s Crossfire Premier club.
The Junior Striker Selects recently became the first team to represent the territory in a futsal tournament outside of Yukon. Split into a 2003 squad and a 2002 squad, the former went undefeated in four matches and the latter finished with a 1-3 record at the Vancouver tournament the weekend of Dec. 16-17.
The Selects also became the first team to play futsal – a form of soccer typically played on a small indoor field without walls or boards – at the Canada Games Centre’s fieldhouse during the showcase.
The following men’s match was also futsal.
“I like it better than indoor soccer because it’s more controlled, it’s a better tempo,” said Wood-Ryan, who is playing his second year at the Real Salt Lake club’s developmental academy in Arizona. “It’s more strategic. You can’t hit it off the walls when you get in trouble, you have to use your feet. But it doesn’t quite compare to the outdoor game. That’s my favourite for sure.”
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