There’s little doubt that Team Yukon’s boys soccer team will be brimming with confidence when they get to the Canada Summer Games next month.
Competing in two USA Cup tournaments in Blaine, Minnesota, last week, the U-18 team took silver in the larger week-long contest in the A playoff in the gold-flight division.
“It really was (a confidence builder),” said Team Yukon head coach Jake Hanson. “Playing some of the top teams, we realized we really are at that level. We need to do a little bit of tweaking, but we kept with our game plan that we’re planning to use at the Summer Games. So we had a lot of opportunity to work through things tactically and now we have another month to do a bit of brushing up.”
The Yukon squad advanced to the finals with a 3-0 win over Mexico’s Puebla Cefor-Lobos. Yukon’s CJ Reaume headed in the ball off a corner kick for the game-winner after a half hour of play. The other goals were scored by Walker Ewing and Stephen Dynes.
“(Dynes’ goal) was an unfortunate goal for them,” said Hanson. “Their goalie made a bit of a blunder. There was a delayed off-side—the ref never actually blew his whistle—and the goalie collected the ball and set it down at the top of the 18th (yard line) thinking the ref had blown the whistle. But the offside was never called and our player went and scooped up the ball and basically walked it into the back of the net.
“It was one of those strange ones.”
Unfortunately, Yukon came up short in the finals, losing 3-1 against Cruz Azul, a Mexican team based in Minneapolis. After a scoreless first half, Ewing scored Yukon’s lone goal to move the team within one at 2-1.
“We pressed and were able to score our goal with seven minutes left,” said Hanson. “Pressing for the tying goal, they counter-attacked and got their third goal in the dying minutes.”
Before the weeklong cup, Team Yukon played in a shorter, weekend USA Cup, going 0-2-1 in the puma flight, the highest level of play.
“It is the largest youth soccer tournament in the Western Hemisphere, so you get soccer teams from—I want to say there were 17 different countries represented,” said Hanson, speaking of the two US Cups. “Where the weeklong tournament had 841 teams entered, the weekend tournament had 450 teams. So it was a smaller version of the weeklong tournament.”
After losing their first two games, Yukon earned a tie against a select team from South Dakota, with Harrison Ewing booting in both goals.
“I think our team played better in the weekend tournament when our legs were still fresh,” said Hanson. “But certainly we were quite happy to make it to the finals in the weeklong tournament.”
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