Grande Prairie, Alberta
Team Yukon knocked the opposition off the soccer field Sunday during the first competition of the 2010 Arctic Winter Games in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
The series of indoor soccer matches was the only competitive sport to take place on opening day. And even if the opposition scored on every shot they had, Yukon still would have come out on top.
Of the four Yukon soccer teams competing, three faced Nunavut, outscoring them 31-1 with two lopsided shutouts.
Yukon’s juvenile males team began the day with an 8-1 win, followed by the junior males winning 14-0, and the day at the indoor pitch ended for the territory with junior females winning 9-0.
Team Yukon’s juvenile female team began the Games against Team Alberta North, losing 7-1.
“There’s a lot of games this week, so it was nice to start against these guys and not have to go 100 per cent like we will in most of the games,” said Team Yukon juvenile boys coach Jake Hanson. “So it’s fortunate
that we have a game where we can rest a few players and lay back a little bit.”
In the juvenile males game, Yukon’s first-half goalkeeper, Michael Hare, had about 17 minutes of standing around watching the action in the other end of the field, only facing a Nunavut scoring opportunity with three
minutes left of the 20-minute half.
However, despite the continuous play in the Nunavut end, Yukon was only up 3-0 by half, with Tristan Olynyk capitalizing on a pass out of the corner, Mike Wintemute knocking in a rebound and Kurtis Hills scoring on
a long shot from midfield.
As popular as soccer programs are in the Yukon, the territory has an additional advantage over teams like Nunavut, which do not have an indoor field like the one at our Canada Games Centre, said Hanson.
“What a lot of the contingents will have is an adjustment to these facilities,” he said. “Typically, at the Arctic Winter Games, indoor soccer is played in a smaller facility. We have a facility like this, but a lot of the
others are training in school gymnasiums type settings. So I think the space is a big factor and other (teams) will have to make some adjustments.
“In a gym you can cut off passing lanes, but in this kind of space there’s lots of lanes.”
Yukon continued the onslaught in the second, with two more goals from Wintemute, two from Hare, who was replaced in net by Hills, one from Belgie Nunez-Zuniga and one from Tristan Olynyk.
“Typically, Alaska and Greenland, you can always expect them to be very strong,” said Hanson, commenting on upcoming matches. “And Russia will be strong, NWT will be strong – the others I don’t even know. You
have to expect to play five hard games over the week and hopefully we’ll position ourselves for a semifinal.”
Junior males trounce Nunavut
With Dawson City’s Logan Donovan away for many practices and Jesse Latoski out with a sprained ankle for over three weeks, starting the Arctic Games against a less dangerous team like Nunavut was just what the
doctor ordered for the Team Yukon’s junior males squad.
“It’s the first game so everyone is nervous and jittery; so this was a good game to relax a bit, get the team flowing,” said Team Yukon junior males coach Ammon Hoefs. “We’ve had guys injured, guys who have been
out of town, so this is a good game to re-gel.
“It’s good to see everyone come together so nice.”
The junior males’ 14-0 shellacking of Nunavut actually looked to be a close one early on. It took almost five minutes for Yukon to get on the board, which might seem like a lot considering the final score. Getting the
eventual game winner was Walker Ewing, booting in a high-flying rebound out of the air for his first of five goals in the game.
It was in the second half that Team Yukon really started to dominate, scoring 10 goals.
“I thought it was our fitness over the Nunavut guys,” said Team Yukon junior males forward Travis Olynyk. “We seemed to be more fit and we seemed to just keep going.”
Also scoring for Yukon was Latoski with four goals, Olynyk and Donovan with two each and David Ratcliff with one.
Junior females start Games with shutout
Considering staff was unsure whether a junior female team could be assembled for the Arctic Games, starting with a 9-0 shutout isn’t too shabby, said Team Yukon junior females coach Jessica Harrison.
“It’s a nice game to start out with – gets us moving, gets us working on things we need to, like our plays,” said Harrison. “Even though the score was one-sided, Nunavut gave us a run and we were exhausted.
“We worked as a unit pretty well – I mean almost everybody got a number of goals. Especially in the second half: great passing, great shots. Everyone pulled their weight, so that was good.”
With a small turnout at the team’s tryouts last fall, Yukon’s junior female team only came into existence thanks to some players from outside of Whitehorse. Without Georgie Sam from Pelly Crossing or Sarah
McDiarmid from Stewart Crossing, who ended up as an alternate, the team might not be in Grande Prairie, said Harrison.
“The tryouts started with really low numbers – we were really nervous that we weren’t going to get a team to send,” she said. “ What’s great is we have some community girls and it’s the first time we’ve had a team
that’s not solely Whitehorse-based. I think that’s really great since with ladies the interest drops off earlier than it does with the men, and we wouldn’t have had a team if we didn’t have community players.”
Scoring for the Yukon in the game were Helen Hedstrom-Langford, Katherine Lowey, Stephanie Pike and Jamie Whitty, each with two goals, plus one from Odette Rivard.
“We were pretty scattered in the first half, but there were a lot of chances,” said Whitty. “In the second half we had a chance to slow it down.”
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com