A goal, a win and a shutout. Those are three achievements the Yukon Strikers U-14 girls team are taking back from the Soccer Nationals for the first time.
“Three games, all one-goal games – the girls did amazing,” said Strikers head coach Derek Parker. “We don’t get those type of competitive games throughout the year, so each game the play picks up a little bit.
“I told the girls I’d shave my beard if they won and so, now, I’m beardless,” added the clean-shaven coach.
Placing second last ahead of PEI, the Strikers finished the nationals, taking place in Mount Pearl and St. John’s, Newfoundland, with a 1-0 win over the hosting Mount Pearl club on Monday.
“In the first half, we didn’t have the intensity we had in the second half,” said Parker. “We did really well to keep it 0-0 to half time.”
Getting the game-winner was Mikaela Ponsioen, tucking the ball just inside the post from 20 yards out.
The Strikers’ win, which was the first ever for the Yukon for U-14 girls, was also the first-ever shutout with Sandy Dubois in net for the Yukon. With only a half-dozen starts in net, Dubois was new to the position, but her play indicated otherwise.
“She was new and untested, but she kept us in,” said Parker. “We got to mid-point scoreless because she had some great saves.
“She was the one that blew us all way and kept us in there. We had possession of the ball for about 40 per cent of the match.”
Though the first win and first shutout, Ponsioen’s goal was not her team’s first. The Strikers scored in each of their previous matches, both in 2-1 losses, to PEI’s Summerside United and then New Brunswick.
Scoring against PEI was Hannah Milner, who was presented with hat from the hosting club for registering the first-ever Yukon goal at that level.
“Oh my god, I just scored the first goal for the U-14 team,” said Milner, reliving the moment. “It had a huge affect on the team. We were all screaming and happy.”
Milner scored from about 25 yards out, getting her shot over the keeper and just under the crossbar.
Samantha Wintemute scored the Strikers’ goal against New Brunswick. Ponsioen got the assist, sending a cross-field pass to Wintemute, who then knocked in the volley.
“It was exciting because the Yukon usually doesn’t score that much,” said Wintemute.
The Strikers opened the championships with back-to-back 11-0 losses against Quebec’s Le Laser and Nova Scotia.
U-14 boys crush NWT
After going scoreless in four matches, the Yukon Strikers U-14 boys had little difficulty finding the back of the net to end the National Championships in Newfoundland.
The Strikers avoided last with a decisive 10-0 win over NWT on Monday.
“That was a great game for the guys; they really pulled it together for that last game,” said Strikers head coach Ed Van Randen. “We pretty much took control from the start and at half it was 6-0.
“You could really see the difference in what having a club program in Whitehorse does. NWT doesn’t have a soccer club program like we have and our guys really overpowered them.”
Scoring for the Strikers were Luka Van Randen with a hat trick, plus Graydon McDonnell and Dakota Thompson, each with a pair of goals. Also scoring for the Yukon were Christopher Torgerson, Brendan Irish and captain Alex Hanson, each with one.
“They all played well,” said coach Van Randen. “Luka scored nice goals. He put one in off his head – that was a nice goal – on a beautiful cross from Chris Torgerson. We were saying from the start of the tournament we’d reward a header with $20, so they were all pretty pumped to get a header-goal.”
In the Strikers’ four previous matches, the Yukoners lost 22-0 to Ontario’s Red Lions – the eventual gold-medal-winning team – 3-0 to Nova Scotia, 7-0 to Saskatchewan and 10-0 to hosting Newfoundland and Labrador.
“I think they progressed really well over the first four games and the last game just came together for them,” said Van Randen. “One thing that stood out was how much our boys came together during the tournament. If we could play games like this more frequently, we would really see big progress. It’s amazing what five really competitive games can do to a team.”
Short-bench, U-16 Strikers winless
It was tough going right from the start for the Yukon Strikers U-16 girls, competing at the nationals in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Besides facing Alberta and BC to open the tournament, and being the only territorial team, the Strikers had a short bench, bringing just 13 players, seven less than the maximum.
“That was definitely a tough tournament, but we knew coming in to nationals it would be,” said Strikers head coach Charly Kelly. “Coming in with 13 players, was a difficult for nationals. All the other teams had a minimum of 18 players.”
However, after four shutouts, the Strikers managed to get on the board, losing 5-1 to New Brunswick and finishing last on Monday.
Surprisingly, the Strikers led for most of the match, finishing the first half up 1-0 on a goal from striker Emily Dorosz just minutes in.
Though New Brunswick scored five second-half goals, the indomitable spirit of Strikers goalkeeper Anna Janowicz kept the team strong.
“She was in net for us the whole time and with the scores that we had, not letting each and every goal get her down, it made a huge difference to the team,” said Kelly. “Another thing is every game she improved.”
Also getting mention were Strikers Emily Wilson and Jaylene Kelly, who were the team’s flag-bearers for the opening and losing ceremonies respectively.
“Those are two players who showed great leadership on the team as well as continuous play and pressure,” said Kelly.
The Strikers were presented the Fair Play Award, given out by tournament officials to the team to show the best sportsmanship throughout the championship.
“It’s not because we didn’t win a game, it’s from how we played on the field,” said Kelly.
Over the weekend the Strikers also lost 12-0 to Nova Scotia and 5-0 to PEI’s Central Queens S.C.
Contact Tom Patrick at