Last week, Yukon minor soccer sent three teams to compete in the national soccer championships being held in eastern Canada.
Of those, the only to pick up a win was the U14 boys team, the Firth Rangers, who played five games in PEI.
“I think it was a real good experience for the boys,” said Thomson. “It’s good to play the really good teams to see where you’re at and see what you need to work on.”
The Rangers got their win in their final game, beating Newfoundland 2-1 in double-overtime.
Rangers’ Curtis Hills scored both goals for his team, tying the game 1-1 on a penalty shot that resulted from a tripping call.
Hills then closed the books on the game, taking a pass from midfield and then rifling it into the far, top corner after blowing by Newfoundland’s defence.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Thomson.
The sportsmanship displayed by the Firth Rangers resulted in the team being given the Fair Play award.
“They played hard and played fair,” said Thomson. “It was neat.”
The Rangers were shut out in their first four games, facing BC (losing 10-0), Alberta (losing 6-0), Nova Scotia (losing 10-0) and PEI (losing 2-0).
Ontario beat BC 3-1 in the finals to take the championship.
U16 boys take
close loss to PEI
Competing in Sydney, Nova Scotia, after four consecutive shutouts, showing signs of improvement in each game, the U16 boys team, the Krushers, ended the tournament with a 2-1 loss to PEI.
Facing a 2-0 deficit, Krushers’ Travis Olnyk scored an unassisted goal with 10 minutes left of play.
Olnyk pounced on a loose ball bouncing around traffic in front of PEI’s net, managing to get around the goalkeeper and put it in the open net.
“There was kind of a scrum of players and he was the quickest one to the ball,” described Hanson. “He scooped it from right in front of the goaltender.”
The Krushers’ biggest loss came in their opening game against Quebec, and they also lost against BC, who won in the finals against Alberta. But Hanson feels that the BC game was one of the better ones for his team.
“For me, that might have been the best defensive and tactical game for the team,” said Hanson. “We decided to take the central-midfield play away from BC because they wanted to play through a particular player … The boys did a great job at forcing BC to play outside.
“We did play our toughest games in the first games. BC and Quebec are the first two teams we played, so I guess the scoring there is not completely indicative of the improvements (the boys made.)”
U14 girls go scoreless at nationals
Considering the high level of play at the nationals, U14 girls coach, Monique Bennett is not particularily surprised by her team’s five shut out losses.
“I kind of expected that going in because we really don’t have any experience or great finishers on that team,” said Bennett, speaking of her team the Wildfire. “I was with the team that went last year to the U14s and was a little apprehensive of taking this group because the skill level just isn’t as high as the girls that went last year. And we had only two girls off of that team playing this year.
“So we kind of knew going into it that it was going to be tough.”
By far, Wildfire’s final game, a 3-0 loss to PEI, was the closest out of the five games played.
“We dominated the play of that game, but we just couldn’t put the ball in the net,” said Bennett. “The goals that PEI had against us just weren’t great goals; I’d have to say they were weak goals.”
The Wildfire began the tournament with a 11-0 loss to BC, who took first in the division. They then fell 4-0 against New Brunswick, 5-0 against Nova Scotia and then 5-0 against Newfoundland.
According to Bennett, Wildfire’s Clair Lindsey, Megan Lanigan and Mary Bennett (one of the two returners) stood out among their team.
“I think it was their physical play,” said Bennett. “I think they were able to really compete with other players because they weren’t pushed off the ball as much — these are three very aggressive players.”