First it was the female team, then it was the male.
A week after Yukon’s female team placed 10th at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg, the territory’s male team did the same. Both 10th place finishes mark Yukon’s highest ever in soccer at the Canada Games.
“It’s really good,” said Yukon striker/goalkeeper Dawson Weir. “Not only did we do well, I think we can strive to do better. As we progress in the sport we are improving massively and I think it’s only going to go forward from here.”
Yukon’s male team finished with a 4-0 loss to Saskatchewan on Aug. 11 to place 10th, ahead of P.E.I. in 11th and N.W.T. in 12th.
Saskatchewan scored twice in the first half and twice in the second.
“I think it was our best game, the way we played,” said Yukon head coach Edgar Musonda. “We played very well with an offensive mind, but also we defended very well.
“What we lacked was quickness. Saskatchewan was very, very quick.”
Yukon reached the ninth/10th place match with a shootout win over N.W.T. on Aug. 10.
After finishing regulation tied 1-1, it took seven shooters from each team for Yukon to win the shootout 6-5.
Simon Kishchuk, Matthias Hoenisch, Cody Amaral and Milton each scored to put Yukon up 4-3 in the shootout before Ewan Halliday put his off the post and N.W.T.’s Austin Sleno tied it up, sending it into extra shooters.
Yukon’s Carl Knickle logged the game winner as the seventh shooter for Yukon.
Weir, who scored on his penalty kick as Yukon’s sixth shooter (before the N.W.T. goalkeeper scored as his team’s sixth), secured the win with a diving save on a shot from N.W.T.’s Ethan McKay.
“I wasn’t too worried when it came to me shooting,” said Weir. “I’m pretty comfortable on the ball as I play striker as well as goalie.
“Where as playing in net, really there’s not that much stress on you because it’s all up to the players to put it in the back of the net. If you make the save then you’re the hero.
“It was really stressful, but at the same time it was enjoyable because you know all the pressure is on them. You just have to enjoy the moment and hopefully come out on top.”
Yukon took a 1-0 lead over N.W.T. just 10 minutes in on a goal — Yukon’s first of the week — from midfielder Tyler Milton. N.W.T.’s Viktor Gutierrez scored in the 48th minute.
“It felt pretty good to score in regulation,” said Milton. “I’m not usually the goal scorer, so it’s a rare occurrence. I just have to enjoy it.”
Yukon lost 11-0 to Quebec to start the tournament and then managed to keep Manitoba scoreless for the first half in a 5-0 loss on Aug. 8.
Ontario took gold, Alberta silver, Quebec bronze and Manitoba placed fourth.
Weir played in net for the first half against Saskatchewan and striker in the second as starting goalkeeper James Russell made his return. Russell suffered a minor concussion in the match against Quebec in a collision with an opposing player.
“The boys are proud of the record we’ve achieved and they’re thinking they can do more in the future,” said Musonda. “We’re going to use this record to help prepare for the Arctic Winter Games. I think we can do better.
“One thing we’re proud of is our team is very young; we have 14-year-olds on the team and the average age was 16. So playing against the big teams (in the under-18 tournament) was a big achievement for us.”
Yukon’s female team also beat N.W.T. to reach the ninth/10th place match in the first week of the Games, going on to lose 4-0 to Newfoundland and Labrador on Aug. 2.
Not only are the two 10th place finishes records for Yukon, they also mark the first time since the inaugural Games in 1967 a territory has placed ahead of a province. N.W.T. pulled it off 50 years ago when the territory’s male team took 10th ahead of P.E.I. in 11th.
“I’m the only player from a community for the second week — I live in Haines Junction — and it was really awesome to have the support from my whole team, to be able to play and participate in this activity even though I don’t live in the same community,” added Weir.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org