Yukon Strikers Soccer Club’s U-16 and U-14 girls teams will both have at least one win under their belts when they head to the National Championships in October.
Both teams picked up a win, among some other tight matches, at the 27th annual Chilliwack Youth Soccer Tournament over the weekend.
For the U-14 squad, it was a long time coming with the cancellation of two other tournaments they hoped to play in earlier this season.
“They didn’t give up at any point in the tournament,” said Strikers U-14 head coach Derek Parker. “I got the effort I needed to get out everyone on the team. A number of those members of the team will be going to nationals.
“We’ve had a tough year. We had a tournament in Juneau cancelled, we were looking at going to (a tournament in) Sherwood Park (Alberta), it was cancelled, so we’ve just been playing each other locally and it’s a tough way build your competitive play.
“This was kind of our first time to get a feel for an Outside competitive squad in tournament play.”
The U-14 Strikers avoided last place with a 6-1 win over the Williams Lake ‘98 team. Propelling the Strikers ahead were four goals from Mikaela Ponsieon and individual ones from Aimee Parker and Lauren Leslie.
“She had a bunch of times where she couldn’t get the shot off, but, generally speaking, she gets those goals because she can hang on to the ball through traffic and get a solid kick of the ball,” said Parker of Ponsieon. “She has the accuracy to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Before a 3-0 defeat to the Sunshine Coast to end the round-robin, the Strikers suffered a pair of one-goal losses, 2-1 to Squamish, with Ponsioen scoring, and 1-0 against Williams Lake ‘97 team, which went on to take gold.
“Our girls are mostly a 1998 squad and we were playing in the silver category, mostly against 1997 girls,” said Parker. “That made it a little bit difficult.”
The U-16 Strikers opened the tournament with their only win, but left Chilliwack in high spirits. In a 6-4 loss to the Sunshine Coast, the Strikers outscored their BC opponents 3-1 in the second half.
“The first half we were struggling for sure, the second half we came back strong,” said U-16 Strikers head coach Charly Kelly. “Coming out of this game, the girls felt great. The second half was a total win for us. We dominated their team in the second half.”
Scoring for the Strikers were Camille Galloway with two, Megan Lanigan with one, and defender Moya Painter with one off a corner kick.
The U-16s began with a 2-1, shootout win over North Shore with Galloway getting the regulation goal. Strikers goalkeeper Jaylene Kelly made two of five saves in the shootout to help giver her team the win.
“We’re struggling with our goalies; in our very first game our goalie Sam Burgis got hurt,” said coach Kelly. “We’re playing people who don’t normally play net.
“We’re hoping (Burgis) will be good for nationals.”
With the exception of four players, the U-16 Strikers was the same squad as the one to represented the territory at the Western Canada Summer Games earlier this month. There too, Jaylene Kelly was in goal for an injured Burgis, helping Team Yukon defeat NWT 2-0 to take fifth.
The Strikers also took a pair of 4-0 losses to Semiahmoo and Port Coquitlam in Chilliwack.
“The last three games were super aggressive,” said coach Kelly. “There was a lot of pushing, but it’s good competition for us.
“We’re pumping up to get ready for nationals.”
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