Strikers score gold, silver in North Vancouver

It's not too common for one team to win two medals at a tournament. Not all teams have the depth of the Yukon Strikers U12 girls soccer team.

It’s not too common for one team to win two medals at a tournament.

Not all teams have the depth of the Yukon Strikers U12 girls soccer team.

The Yukon rep team was split in two to compete in U12 and U11 at the 27th annual North Shore Girls Soccer Club Thanksgiving Tournament over the weekend in North Vancouver.

The U11 half of the Strikers went undefeated to take gold and the U12 reached the final for silver in their respective age divisions.

“I’m very pleased and very proud,” said Spencer Rich, who was head coach for the U11 half of the Strikers. “The defence was outstanding, our passing was excellent, we passed the ball really well and created a lot of opportunities.

“The teams we played against were more experienced and tough than us – they were tougher on the ball. But once we adapted to that, we had the better skills on the ball and better passing abilities.”

The U11 Strikers defeated four teams from the hosting North Shore Girls Soccer Club, one of the largest clubs in Canada with 3,500 players registered.

They secured the gold with a 3-1 come-from-behind win over the NS Jellyfish on Monday.

After starting the second half down 1-0, Yukon’s Abby Rich knocked in the tying goal, Emily Gaw scored the winning goal (assisted by Vanderklay and Abby Rich), and Cassidy Cairns made the insurance goal off a corner-kick.

“In the second half we attacked them and passed the ball really well and created a couple of opportunities,” said Spencer.

The Strikers reached the final with three consecutive shutouts against North Shore teams.

They opened with a 2-0 win over the NS Penguins on Saturday with Peyton Twardochleb scoring twice.

“That was an end-to-end game, a very competitive game,” said Spencer.

The Selects cruised to a 5-0 win over the NS Sharks with two goals from Cairns, and individual deposits from Twardochleb, Abby and Amy Vanderklay.

The Strikers reached the final on a 0-0 contest with the NS Chinooks.

Keeping the Strikers’ net air-tight for the first three matches were Maren Bilsky and Sammy Demchuk, who each played halfs in all the matches.

The Yukon Strikers were within minutes of two gold medals before some heartbreak in the U12 final.

Up 2-1 against the Whistler Storm, Whistler scored in extra time on a corner-kick and took the win with an overtime goal. The 3-2 loss was the Strikers’ only of the weekend.

“We had them for the full year. Juneau visited us in April and we went to Juneau in June, and we were not a team yet at all,” said Strikers U12 coach Ed van Randen. “No one knew how to play a position; we were a group of individuals out there.

“I think the story of this tournament is that they really played as a team. And we really focused on that as coaches … and that really made a difference.

“They went out there and really played as a squad and as a result they had really good success.”

The Strikers cruised to the final with three sizable wins. They won 5-0 over the NS Phoenix, 7-2 over the Whistler Powderhounds and 5-0 over the NS Chargers.

Striker centre-mid Charlotte van Randen led the team with eight goals, including both goals in the final.

Teammate Mary Londero had three goals and Alyssa Rusnak and Abby Rich each had two.

Charlotte van Randen, Londero and Twardochleb all played in net for the Strikers and each had shutout halfs.

Rusnak, Twardochleb and Abby Rich were the only Strikers who played on both Yukon teams.

“We had about 10 different goal-scorers in the whole tournament, and that’s pretty incredible for that many kids to play that well and be able to score goals for us across the two teams,” said Spencer. “I’m really proud of the kids. This whole age group has a lot of potential.”

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