The Whitehorse FC U13 girls soccer team was in North Vancouver, B.C., for the North Shore Girls Soccer Club’s (NSGSC) annual Thanksgiving Tournament where the team won its division with a 4-0 record.
Happening from Oct. 12 to 14, the team played three round-robin games on the first two days and then a gold medal game on Oct. 14.
Whitehorse FC opened up the weekend with a 6-0 victory against Vancouver Athletic FC on day one, followed by a 7-1 victory later that afternoon against the NSGSC Sting Rays.
On day two, Whitehorse FC edged out the NSGSC Rangers 2-1 to remain perfect.
The two teams met again for gold on day three, with Whitehorse FC dispatching the host team comfortably 5-1.
Head coach Ben Mercier said his team followed the game plan all weekend and focused on defending first.
“I think we really executed the things we’ve been working on. Particularly our defence was really strong in first winning the ball, but really starting the plays really well out of our own end,” said Mercier. “I’d say in terms of any group on our team, our defence deserves an honourable mention.”
The tournament was the first time the team has played 11-a-side full-field soccer — prior to this year, players had only played eight-on-eight cross-field games — and Mercier was happy with how well the team adjusted to the extra bodies and space.
“The things we worked on in small areas — things like midfielders getting out wide and going to space — they did a really good job (of),” said Mercier. “The majority of the team positionally played really well.”
Mercier said the team’s third game, its narrow 2-1 victory, was the one that stood out after the fact.
“We were just not having a lot of luck around the goal, even though we certainly had more opportunities, but they started really putting pressure on our team,” said Mercier. “Our defence just did a phenomenal job holding up and holding their team off. (Rangers) scored a late one, but (Whitehorse FC) really played a phenomenal game.”
With the outdoor season behind the team for another year, Mercier said the improvement in the players’ vision is what stands out from this year.
“I think the biggest growth has probably come in just understanding the game enough to see a progression of passes leading to a different outcome,” said Mercier. “Not just chasing what is exactly in front of them, but being able to look a little further into the future and put a series of plays together.”
Although the team competed in division two at this tournament, Mercier said his team looks ready for a bigger challenge next year.
“We had some good individual efforts and I think we’re ready to move up to the top division next year,” said Mercier. “We probably should have played there this year. It was a great tournament and I think there was a lot of growth just in those four short games.”
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