In a way, the U-14 team, formally called the Klondike Blizzards, limited their potential by splitting into two evenly matched teams, the Klondike and the Blizzards. However, the coaches had their reasons and now, with the tournament over, they have no regrets.
“They were crafted to be as even as possible and it worked out quite nicely,” said U-14 coach David White.
“We were using this as the final criteria in selecting the team that’s going to nationals; that’s why we wanted to keep them as even as possible, so we can look at each girl as much as possible.”
If you count the split team as two, a total of three Whitehorse girls’ rep teams made the trip to the Ina Kristiansen Memorial Soccer Tournament in Anchorage, Alaska, last weekend.
“The scores were very respectable considering we were up against their select teams,” said White. “We were playing under some pressure because we went with only three subs and we were playing against some pretty tough competition.”
The Blizzards squad began the tournament with a 2-0 loss against the Chugiak Cyclones. The game was scoreless at half with the help of Blizzards goalkeeper Samantha Burgis, stopping a penalty kick in minute-15.
The Klondike team also began with a shutout, losing 3-0 against another whirlwind named team, the North Pole Cyclones from the Fairbanks area. In the game Klondike net minder Chrissy Anderson had to leave the game after a collision with a Cyclone player.
“That was a bit of a blow to us,” said White. “That keeper had been playing really well up to that point.”
The Blizzards got their first goal of the tournament in a 4-1 loss against the Alaska Rush, with a goal Megan Lanigan lifting a 30-yard shot over the Rush’s goalkeeper.
“It was just a lovely goal because the Alaskans had been pushing relentlessly against us,” said White. “The keeper was cheating a little bit, playing a little too far out of goal, and Megan launched the ball right over the keeper’s head.
“It was a wonderful response to this keeper not playing the way she should have been.”
The best results for the U-14 squads came against a Faribanks team, with Klondike taking a 0-0 tie.
“A lot of the play took place in the other team’s end,” said White. “We were getting shots on goal and just weren’t able to put it in the net.”
The following day each of the Whitehorse teams took a final loss with the Blizzards falling 3-0 against the Anchorage Eclipse, and Klondike losing 4-1 against the Kenai Synergy, with a goal by Sadie Whitelaw to tie the game 1-1 early in the second half.
“(Whitelaw) is just fearless as a striker,” said White.
Whitehorse’s girls’ U-12 rep team also competed, taking 1-1 tie against another North Pole team. In the fleeting moments of the game Whitehorse’s Mikaela Ponsoien found teammate Samantha Wintemute on the left wing, who outmaneuvered the Alaskan defence for a goal.
“After such a long, hard-fought game, this tie felt as good as a win,” said U-12 coach Derek Parker in an e-mail to the News.
The U-12 team was shut out in their other three games, including a pre-tournament exhibition game.
“The games played in Anchorage were some players’ first or second games on a full field,” said Parker. “Many of the Whitehorse players were surprised by the rough, aggressive play at this age level, and it took some time to adjust to this new style of play.”
After the tournament, Wintermute was awarded the “Ina K” medal for the team spirit she exuded on the field.
“(We) selected Samantha because of the encouragement she heaps on her teammates, her humble and positive nature as well as her intensely competitive play,” said Parker.
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