The timing of the USA Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament in Blaine, Minnesota, could not have been much better for two U18 Yukon Strikers rep teams.
The two Yukon squads used the weeklong event to prepare for when they exchange their Strikers jerseys for Team Yukon ones and take to the pitch at the Canada Summer Games next month in Sherbrooke, Que.
“It was a really good tournament; it was good for us,” said Yukon men’s head coach Victor Lavanderos. “We’re leaving in three weeks (for the Canada Games) and for us it was perfect.”
“That is the best tournament for preparing for the Canada Games,” said Yukon women’s head coach Charly Kelly.
The USA Cup, which is the largest annual youth soccer competition in the States, featured a weekend tournament July 12-14 followed by a weekday tournament July 16-20.
Both Strikers teams competed an age group up in the U19 Gold division – the highest division – and played some close, hard-fought matches throughout the week.
In addition to a handful of one-goal losses, Yukon’s men’s team took in a win and the women’s team registered a tie.
In the short weekend tournament, the men’s Strikers downed the North Stars from Minneapolis 2-0 with goals from striker Mike Wintemute and midfielder Belgie Nunez-Zuniga.
They opened the tournament with a 2-1 loss to the Illinois Elgin Pumas with a goal from Wintemute before a 2-0 loss to the St-Croix Academy from Minnesota.
In the weekday tournament, they lost 1-0 to Minnesota’s Wayzata Pterodactyl, 4-2 to Mexico’s Tenancingo, 3-0 to Sweden’s Rudbeckianska and 1-0 to Minnesota’s Keliix Intra. Yukon midfielder Callum Ryan-Wood and striker Axel Riemer scored against Wayzata.
“All the games we played were really close until the last 20 minutes,” said Lavanderos. “In the last 10 or 20 minutes they scored from freak corner kicks and things like that.
“We can play against teams like that: good soccer teams.
“Tomorrow we start practice and we’ll start on what we need to work on.”
Though the team gathered some valuable experience, the team might have lost an important player. Yukon goalkeeper Dominic Korn suffered a concussion in the third match while playing out of net and it’s not clear yet if he’ll be back in time for the Canada Games.
“We’re assuming, but you never know,” said Lavanderos. “We’ll maybe know next week.”
Timber Schroff played in net after Korn’s injury and will be starting goalie if Korn is unable to play in Sherbrooke.
Yukon’s women’s team was shut out over the weekend tournament but tied Minnesota’s Keliix Intra 1-1 during the weekday tournament. They also lost 2-0 to Canada’s Lakehead Express, allowing both goals in the last minute of play, and 2-1 to Blaine, Minnesota’s Pumas, dropping a 1-0 lead late in the match.
“The scores aren’t really indicative of the play because we were playing really strong,” said Kelly. “A couple players got hurt, which is a bit of a kick. And it was really hot out, which was awesome for us to acclimatize for Quebec. It was 33 and felt like 49!”
The two injured players will be back in action for the Canada Games, said Kelly.
Both Yukon squads have a lot of major Games experience going to Sherbrooke.
Thirteen players from the men’s team competed at the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, B.C.
Eight played on the bronze-winning junior team at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games, including defenceman Marten Sealy, who was second in scoring in the division with nine goals. Three also played on Yukon’s juvenile team at the 2012 Arctics.
On the women’s team are nine players from Yukon’s gold-winning junior female team at the 2012 Arctics, including the division’s top-scorer Camille Galloway with 14 goals.
Galloway, who plays midfield, scored all four of the Strikers’ goals at the USA Cup.
The team also includes three players from Yukon’s silver-winning juvenile female squad from the 2012 Arctics and 16 players who played for Yukon at the 2011 Western Games.
Both Yukon teams also have tough starts to the Sherbrooke Games.
The men’s team will play Ontario on August 12 before New Brunswick on August 13. The women’s team starts with a match against Alberta on August 3 and then Nova Scotia on August 4. Placing matches begin after the first two days each week.
“At westerns (western Canadian championship) I think Alberta had nine national team players on the team and that makes a big difference for us,” said Kelly. “If we can keep them below double digits, that’s an amazing goal for us.
“Nova Scotia has a great program and a national training centre there as well.”
The USA Cup also helped decide captains for the Yukon teams. Midfielder Jaylene Kelly will captain the women’s team and defenceman/midfielder Tristan Olynyk will captain the men’s.
Michael Amirault (defence)
Travis Banks (defence)
Brendyn Gendron (striker)
Owen Hedstrom-Langford (midfield)
Brendan Irish (defence)
Colin Kabanak (defence)
Dominic Korn (goal)
Malcolm Muir (defence/midfield)
Belgie Nunez-Zuniga (defence/midfield)
Tristan Olynyk (defence/midfield)
Axel Riemer (striker)
Jonathon Runions (striker/midfield)
Timber Schroff (goal)
Andrew Scoffin (midfield)
Marten Sealy (defence)
Kieran Stacey (defence)
Christopher Torgerson (striker)
Mike Wintemute (striker)
Callum Wood-Ryan (midfield)
Victor Lavanderos (head coach)
Arnold Hedstrom (assistant coach)
Teresa Banks (manager)
Stephanie Avery (midfield)
Samantha Burgis (goal)
Jenelle Cousins (striker)
Emily Dorosz (midfield/striker)
Camile Galloway (midfield)
Anna Janowicz (defence)
Jaylene Kelly (midfield)
Megan Lanigan (midfield)
Lauren Leslie (defence)
Carolyn Miller (defence)
Brittany Milner (midfield)
Hannah Milner (midfield/striker)
Moya Painter (defence)
Morgan Paul (defence)
Cheyenne Ryan (striker)
Chloe Turner-Davis (defence)
Emily Wilson (defence)
Samantha Wintemute (midfield)
Charly Kelly (head coach)
River Walton (assistant coach)
Leslie Gomm (manager)
Contact Tom Patrick at