The Whitehorse FC Premier U15 boys soccer team finished fourth in its pool at the 2019 Slurpee Cup in Edmonton from May 31 to June 2. (Submitted/Whitehorse FC)

Whitehorse FC Premier U15 boys finish fourth despite injuries and short bench at Slurpee Cup

“They worked super hard and were more hungry for the win than the other team”

The Whitehorse FC Premier U15 boys soccer team was in Edmonton for the Slurpee Cup from May 31 to June 2, hosted by the Edmonton West Zone Soccer Association.

The team, comprised of players from Whitehorse as well as one from Haines Junction, finished fourth in pool C, finishing second in its group with a 1-1 record and dropping the bronze medal game to the Yellowknife Bay Sundogs U15 boys team 2-0.

Head coach Chinwebudu Frank said it has been quite some since the team was in a competitive setting, so the first match was all about adjusting to the pace and style of play.

“It was a good experience for the boys,” said Frank. “It was a really good experience for the kids and it gives them a different perspective from what they are used to playing in the Yukon here.”

Up against the Callingwood Snipers U15 in the tournament opener, Whitehorse FC lost 4-0 in a game Frank said helped get rid of some of the rust.

“The first game was a little bit challenging,” said Frank. “The kids haven’t played any competitive games for some time … so I tried to set them up defensively and get them to focus more defensively and kind of go on the counter-attack when they had the opportunity.”

The team started the weekend with a short bench — even adding a pair of Edmonton players to bolster the numbers — and a couple of injuries really stretched the team thin, particularly on the backline.

“The other team was more aggressive and (Whitehorse FC) wasn’t really used to that sort of style of play,” said Frank. “The other team didn’t do anything wrong — they played soccer the way you should play soccer — but it’s just the mentality here was different.”

Whatever issues the team was working through, it quickly rebounded in its second game against Rio Terrace X-Fire U15 with a 1-0 win.

After scoring in the first half to take the lead, Whitehorse FC held on for the win and the clean sheet.

“The kids put in their best effort. They worked super hard and were more hungry for the win than the other team,” said Frank. “It was very interesting in the second half because the other team was pressing and the boys were defending super hard to make sure that they didn’t give away the win.”

That win was enough to secure a final game against Yellowknife for third place, which Whitehorse lost 2-0.

Overall, Frank said the tournament was an impressive showing.

“They adapted,” said Frank. “They worked as hard as they could to make sure they didn’t concede … and at the same time try to wait for that opening.”

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

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