The Yukon men’s soccer team hasn’t penciled a check mark into the win column yet at the Canada Summer Games, but there’s plenty more soccer to come and the team has proven they’ve got what it takes to play with top teams.
The Yukon squad lost 7-0 to Ontario on Monday and 2-0 to New Brunswick on Tuesday in Sherbrooke.
The 7-0 loss to the defending bronze medal team from the 2009 Games sounds lopsided, but the match wasn’t until the final minutes.
“We played a very good first half,” said Yukon head coach Victor Lavanderos. “The second half we made a change in players, made a change on the field. All the players (were) back and we collapsed.
“We never gave up … We brought the guys back because I knew the guys were tired … Ontario was really good, very technical and very fast.”
Yukon held Ontario to one goal in the first half of play and kept the province to two goals until minute 76. Then the wheels fell off. A pair of handballs from Yukon in the box led to penalty kicks Ontario capitalized on. Ontario went on to score three goals – one off the post – within the final three minutes of play.
“We started getting tired and fell apart at the very end,” said Yukon captain Tristan Olynyk. “This game (against New Brunswick) we had to make sure we didn’t fall apart again, so we went hard until the end.”
The Yukon forced New Brunswick to earn its goals Tuesday. At minute 21 New Brunswick midfielder Alexander Theriault tore up the middle of the field at top speed and caught the Yukon defence a little flatfooted. Theriault broke through the defence and scored from just yards out in front.
New Brunswick then found another when a shot was deflected high over Yukon goalkeeper Timber Schroff and headed in by Robert Leblanc into the open net.
“It was a good game, we played hard, we gave it all our heart,” said Olynyk. “We made some good fouls to make sure it wasn’t going into the net. I think we played as a team really good and never gave up.
“We knew it was a game that we could have had … Hopefully we get a win pretty soon here.”
Yukon played Tuesday with a roster planed down by injury. The team, which was also the Yukon Strikers rep team before the Games, lost starting goalkeeper Dominic Korn to a concussion while competing at the U.S.A. Cup in Minnesota last month.
“(Schroff) has stepped up and is doing really good,” said Olynyk. “I don’t even notice he’s our backup keeper. He’s saving us a lot of goals. He’s talking a lot and getting everyone out there.”
Yukon lost sweeper Marten Sealy to a foot injury towards the end of the opening match against Ontario. Sealy got a cleat to the top of his foot and sat out against New Brunswick but could return by Thursday, said Lavanderos.
“It’s day to day,” he said.
With the two losses, Yukon will finish last in their three-team pool and will most likely play either Saskatchewan or Newfoundland – with a small chance of Alberta – on Thursday in a crossover match to start the placement rounds.
Unlike in the women’s tournament during week one, there’s a chance for a territorial rival to reignite. The Northwest Territories scratched their women’s team but is playing in the men’s tournament.
Yukon placed 11th ahead of last place’s N.W.T. at the 2009 Canada Games in P.E.I. and the 2005 Games in Regina.
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