Three squads from the Yukon Strikers Soccer Club competed at the Alaska Airlines Cup in Anchorage last weekend, the state’s largest youth soccer tournament with about 2,000 players taking to the pitch.
All three teams had obstacles to overcome, but two persevered, getting wins under their belts.
The Strikers U-19 boys didn’t have it easy in the tournament, taking a skeleton crew of just nine players. Making matters worse, the team ran into some rotten luck right off the bat, not only meeting the eventual champion team, the CISC Velocity from Anchorage, in the first round, a lengthy commute prevented the full team from reaching the field in time.
“So for the first 15 minutes of the first game the boys played with seven men and we able to keep the other team from scoring until we got the other two players to the game,” said Strikers coach Jake Hanson.
The U-19 boys ended up losing 4-2, with Robbie Borud and Kyle Risby scoring for the Strikers.
The U-19 crew did pick up a win in their second game, defeating the Matanuska Soccer Club from Wasilla, Alaska 3-2, dropping a two-goal lead before Strikers captain Dylan Vickerman scored his second of the game with two minutes left to play for the win. Risby also scored for the Strikers.
The U-19 boys ended with a close game to Anchorage’s Full Force 1993s, last year’s state champions, losing 2-0.
“We were playing for the draw against them because we figured we needed a draw to reach the semifinal,” said Hanson. “We held them off until about 15-minutes left, playing a man down.”
Also representing the Yukon were the Strikers U-14 boys, playing in a U-15 division because of different age categories in the US but won their first game 4-0 against the Alaska Rush Nike 96/97 boys. Scoring for the Strikers were Jono Runions, Trygg Jensen and two from Andrew Scoffin.
“The team played very solid keeping the ball out of our end and creating many scoring opportunities in our attack,” wrote Strikers coach Charlene Torgerson in an e-mail to the News.
The Strikers went on to lose their next two games with the lopsided scores of 10-1 and 8-0 to Alaska teams.
“This was a challenging tournament leaving players very tired but we were successful in so many areas, team building, working together and finding out where we are strong and what we need to work on,” wrote Torgerson. “All the players contributed and stood out in some form; there was growth and gains in each individual.
“Peter Joe Jensen was strong on the field and off – he represented the Yukon well and supported his team solidly.”
The Strikers U-12 girls, who were also playing up an age division, were shutout in all four of their games but brought home valuable tournament experience, said head coach Sarah Hanson.
“It was a really good learning experience and the girls kept a positive attitude,” she said. “It was an eye-opening tournament in the sense that you got to see a whole other level of play. Essentially, my team is just starting out and the teams we were playing have been together for a while and you can tell the difference.
“It gave us a pretty good idea of what we need to work on.”
For her work at both ends of the field, in net and as a forward, Yukon’s Mikaela Ponsioen received special mention from her coach.
“Mikaela really caused a ripple at times,” said Sarah. “She just did fantastic in both ends, so she was probably the one who stood out the most.”
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