The Yukon Strikers Selects have posted two sound wins and two close losses at North America’s largest youth soccer tournament.
The Selects went 2-1 in a round robin before a quarterfinal loss in the U12 boys A Flight – the event’s top U12 flight – at the 31st annual USA Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament over the weekend in Blaine, Minnesota.
It is the continent’s largest tournament with over 15,000 soccer players on 1,153 teams, from 17 countries, 19 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces.
The Selects were ousted from the playoffs with a 3-2 quarterfinal loss to Wisconsin’s Allouez Stampede on Saturday. The Yukon squad took a 2-1 lead with goals from Rhys Faragher and Joe Hanson before dropping it in the second half.
“It was a great game. Our boys were pretty comfortable in that one,” said Selects coach Jake Hanson. “They definitely had a strong edge in play in the first half.
“We probably should have built a bigger lead in that game. We were a little low in numbers, so I think the boys might have tired a little bit in the second half. We continued to play well but we couldn’t get our goal and they scored two.”
The Allouez Stampede went on to take silver on Sunday in the event held at the National Sports Center, which is recognized as the world’s largest soccer complex by Guinness Book of Records with 50 grass soccer fields.
“The boys played well in that quarterfinal – the boys were a little surprised to not go through – but that other team was a real hard working team,” said Jake. “They were gutsy, difficult to play against. They just never quit and in the end they got the better result.”
The Selects opened with a 2-1 loss to Illinois’ San Jose FC, who went on to take gold, on Friday. Striker Joe Hanson prevented the shutout with a goal.
The Yukon team then topped Wisconsin’s Oshkosh United SC 3-1 later in the day. Selects’ Ben Kishchuk scored his first of the tourney while Joe added two more.
The Selects began Saturday with a 3-0 win over Manitoba’s Bonivital Flames to wrap up the round robin.
“Basically, we had to get a tie to go through (to the playoffs) … A loss would have put them in the quarterfinals,” said Jake.
Selects’ goals came from Ashton Bryant with a header off a corner kick; Aidan McGill on a shot from 30 yards out; and Joe added one more just before the final whistle.
Selects goalkeeper Ole Heath got the shutout in net.
“(Heath) was away this winter. He was getting specialized training from a Scottish national team keeper in Phoenix,” said Jake.
With the USA Cup’s weekend tournament done, the Yukon Strikers Selects are now playing in the tournament’s weekday event in the U12 boys Gold Flight.
The Selects, who won their third straight Alaska Airlines Cup in Anchorage last month, are not the only Yukoners competing at the USA Cup.
Five Whitehorse players – Thea Carey, Malorie Hanson, Line Jensen, Jamie Joe-Hudson and Christine Moser – are playing on Anchorage’s Futbol Select Chicas in the U16 girls A Flight.
The Chicas went 1-1-1 in the round robin and came up one goal short in the differential tiebreaker and did not advance to the playoffs.
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