The Yukon Brewing Football Club is on a three-year plan and it’s really panning out well. Since being assembled last year, the over-35 team has won two Outside tournaments in two attempts.
The team’s latest victory was in the Cochrane Cup in Cochrane, Alberta, over the weekend in the men’s over-35 division.
“All summer that was our goal,” said Brewing striker Grant Zazula. “We trained twice a week, played as many games as we could, and we went in with the attitude we could go in and win this. And it paid off.
“We were successful because our fitness was much better than most other teams.”
The Yukon squad brewed up the tournament win with a 1-0 triumphs over the Calgary Rangers in Sunday’s final.
Scoring the game winner with 10 minutes left on the clock was mid-fielder Jake Hanson, knocking in a rebound, off the post and in on a sharp angle. (Hanson was head coach of Yukon’s boys team at the Canada Summer Games and Western Canada Summer Games.)
“It was a close game, obviously reflected by the score. We probably had the majority of the possession and most of the game was played in their half,” said Yukon captain Brad Martin. “We had lots of chances, we just didn’t put one in the net.
“We had many chances that we just couldn’t convert for whatever reason, but we got the one in the end and that turned out to be the winner.”
“We had trouble scoring goals, but we scored them when they needed to come,” said Zazula.
While the final sealed the deal, the semi was the toughest challenge, playing the Red Deer Masters, who, over the 19-year history of the tournament, have won more Cups than any other team.
“That should have been the championships game in some ways; that was the toughest game,” said Martin. “It was our toughest game and our best game. It was a real team effort.”
Scoring both second-half goals was mid-fielder Justin Carre, first scoring on a pass through the box from Hanson, then on a rebound from a free-kick from Peter Mather.
“We had the bulk of the possession in the first half and was running the other team around a little bit,” said Martin. “In the second half, they came on strong and had us pinned in our end a little bit.
“But we scored two goals on the counter attack, because they were pressing pretty hard, which left them kind of vulnerable at the back.”
The brew-crew advanced to the semi by finishing first in their pool, undefeated in two matches. Yukon Brewing opened the tournament blanking the Cochrane Rangers 3-0 with goals from Phil Jackson, Carre and Chris Ross. The team then tied the Calgary Northwest Rangers 1-1 with a goal from Ross.
“Both of our goalies were really superb,” said Martin. “We only let in one goal over the four games that we played, so those guys were both important – Patrick Jackson and Charlie Hoeller.”
In their first tournament appearance, the Yukon Brewing F.C. won gold in the Penticton Soccer Club Old-timers Thanksgiving Invitational last October in Penticton, BC.
“So the plan was to step it up a little bit this year and raise the level of competition, so we figured we’d go to Calgary, which is kind of a hotbed for soccer in the country,” said Martin. “The tournament was bigger and we won again, so we’re excited.
“And next year we’re maybe going to aim for something bigger. We’ve been trying to figure out how we compete against some of the strongest teams in the south and we’re doing well so far, so we’re excited.”
“We’re now starting to think about bigger goals, like going to nationals for over-35,” said Zazula. “Based on our roster, we have a very tough over-35 team right now, and we didn’t know that all the time because we never play against over-35 Yukon teams – we’re the only one in the Yukon.
“After winning two tournaments, we’re starting to realize we’re competitive with anyone.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org