For the fourth year in a row, the Yukon Strikers were golden in North Vancouver on Thanksgiving.
A Strikers girls team went undefeated to claim the top spot in U13 Division 3 at the 29th annual North Shore Girls Soccer Club Thanksgiving Tournament on Oct. 12.
“The goal for this tournament was to really work on our positioning and to work on keeping possession of the ball. Win or lose, we wanted to go down there and play good soccer and expose some of our very youngest players to competitive situations,” said Strikers coach Arnold Hedstrom.
“So we totally met our expectations. Every player got lots of field time and at the same time I saw steady improvements throughout the whole tournament.
“When it got down to the crunch, the team was able to pull in the win and take home the gold medal in their division.”
The Strikers struck gold with a 3-2 win over North Shore Seawolves from North Vancouver in the final.
Tied 2-2 in added time – the 73rd minute in the 70-minute match – Strikers’ Taliya Lindley made a cross-field pass into the Seawolves’ goal box. The ball pinballed around in a scramble before centre mid-fielder Abby Rich pounded it into the back of the net for the win.
“I was just really proud of my whole team because there was just a little bit of time left,” said Rich. “I felt proud of myself and very confident after.”
“It was a really fun tournament and a very intense and close final,” she added. “I love those challenging games, when we just barely win. It makes me feel more proud.”
Rich scored her team’s first goal of the final and teammate Samantha Demchuk scored the second. Both Rich and Demchuk were on the gold-winning U12 Strikers team at last year’s tournament. (A U11
Strikers team won gold at the tournament in 2013 and a U12 squad in 2012.)
The Strikers opened the tournament with a 3-0 win over the Seawolves on Oct. 16.
“We played them in the first game of the tournament and we won 3-0, but one was an own goal, the other was a penalty kick,” said Hedstrom. “So they were very close to us and I felt they were really well coached.
“When they came back to play us in the final, they really plugged up the middle – they put a lot of players back in the 18-yard box because they knew we had a lot of scoring punch.”
The Strikers then beat the North Shore Panthers 6-3 and the North Shore Ravens 8-1 on Oct. 11.
By the end of the tournament Lindley had seven goals, Sara Charlton five, Rich four, Demchuk two and Chelsi Gorrell two.
Goalkeeper duties were split between Larissa Atkin, Emily Organ and Demchuk.
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