The Yukon Strikers U-14 girls team is on the brink of a historic run at the National Soccer Club Championships this week in Vaughan, Ontario.
The Strikers might advance into the top-eight section of the playoffs, depending on the outcome of a game between Saskatchewan and the Burlington Bayhawks, Ontario’s No. 2 team, on Friday.
The Strikers opened the championships with a 6-0 loss to Burlington on Wednesday. The Yukon squad then tied Saskatchewan 0-0 on Thursday.
If Burlington defeats Saskatchewan by seven goals or more on Friday, the Strikers will be included in the top eight teams for the playoffs.
“They are doing really, really well,” said Strikers head coach Doug Harris. “In our first game, against Ontario, we were really strong for the first 10 minutes. We defended really well, but we didn’t get any offence at all in that game.
“In today’s game, our forwards and mid-fielders were a lot more creative. So they started to create some offence and some chances, which was really nice.
“I think the girls feel like they can compete and that’s really important.”
In net for the shutout tie against Saskatchewan was goalkeeper Sandy Dubois.
“She made probably eight to 10 really good saves,” said Harris. “Today’s game was really balanced. They had two really good chances and we had two really good chances.”
The Strikers U-14 girls team achieved a significant milestone at nationals last year. The Strikers secured their first-ever win in a 1-0 victory over Newfoundland.
“Against Saskatchewan, it’s a great result,” said Harris of the tie. “With a bit of luck we would have won 1-0.”
The Yukon Strikers U-14 boys team, also competing in Vaughan, hasn’t had as much success as the girls.
The Strikers boys lost 14-0 to Alberta on Wednesday and 7-1 against P.E.I’s Sherwood Parkdale Rangers on Thursday.
“Alberta is a class above where we are, but that said, we actually played well,” said head coach Ed van Randen. “I wasn’t unhappy with the score line.
“Last year we lost 22-0 to Ontario and there was nothing good in that game at all. This year we lost 14-0 to Alberta and there were moments that they played quite well, despite being blown out.”
As for the 7-1 loss to the Rangers: “The score line doesn’t really reflect the game. Our guys played really well,” said van Randen.
Scoring the Yukon’s one goal so far at the championships was centre mid-fielder Callum Wood-Ryan on a penalty kick in the first half.
Both teams have Friday off before starting the playoffs on Saturday.
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