Submitted photo Whitehorse FC Avalanche won their U11 pool at the Slush Cup in Edmonton in convincing fashion. (Submitted photo/Yukon News)

Whitehorse FC Avalanche win Edmonton Slush Cup

‘They’re a lot of fun to coach’

Whitehorse FC Avalanche rolled over the opposition to win their pool at the Slush Cup in Edmonton from March 1-4.

The U11 side from Whitehorse opened the tournament with a 13-1 victory over SW Sting FC (Purani) on March 2. Whitehorse FC were led by four goals from Cy McDowell, a hat trick from Jesse Johnson, and braces from Samuel Watson and John Chisholm.

In the next round-robin game, Whitehorse FC downed CSWU Selects 07 16-2. Scoring came from McDowell and Cameron Bringsli each with hat tricks, a brace from Johnson and eight other players with a goal each.

Those two victories guaranteed first place in the group and a spot in the finals.

Led by four goals from McDowell, Whitehorse FC cruised to a 6-3 victory over Warriors (Guzman) in the finals.

Head coach Grant Zazula said the weekend was impressive.

“It was fantastic,” said Zazula. “I think the thing that impressed me the most — and I know it impressed other people because they came up to us after every game and mentioned it — is just how well we played as a team.”

The team kicked off the trip to Edmonton with a pair of training sessions with Sean Fleming, a former Team Canada U17 coach who oversaw multiple competition cycles.

“We had a couple training sessions with him on Thursday morning and Friday morning and I think that really helped to kind of elevate the kids’ game and get them mentally and physically prepared to go out and compete,” said Zazula.

Whitehorse FC’s results were even more impressive given that half the squad was underage.

“We had one eight year old, half were nine and half were 10,” said Zazula. “In Alberta soccer, that’s U11.”

The team brought three rookies with them, including McDowell.

“They had been training with us for a few years and they just never had the opportunity to travel before,” said Zazula. “These kinds of weekend are awesome for player development [and] they’re awesome for team bonding.”

Zazula said McDowell’s goal scoring was particularly impressive.

“He’s a kid that we’ve wanted to bring along for a few years and he just happened to have the opportunity to,” said Zazula. “His finishing was clinical. He was putting them top corner, bottom corner — just amazing shots. It was really cool.”

The team is made up of players from Whitehorse looking for a more competitive program to add to their usual soccer team’s sessions, and Zazula said this group has been together in some form for a number of years.

“There’s about half the team that has been playing together as a cohesive, competitive team since they were six years old,” said Zazula. “They’re a lot of fun to coach and see them progress and grow up into young men. It’s a real opportunity.”

Hosted by the Edmonton West Zone Soccer Association, the Slush Cup included nearly 400 teams from across Alberta and western Canada.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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