The boy’s soccer team that will represent the Yukon at the upcoming Western Canada Summer Games picked up valuable experience at the 33rd annual Alaska Far North Soccer Tournament in Anchorage, Alaska.
Competing in an under 19 division against older competition, the Yukon side went undefeated in preliminary matches, scoring 10 and conceding just one — a penalty — en route to the final against Arsenal HS boys on July 14.
Tied 0-0 after regular time, two extra time sessions also failed to produce a goal and a shootout was needed to determine the winner.
In the shootout, the Alaskans emerged victorious 6-5.
Head coach Ash Jordan said the weekend showed the team really hitting their stride and putting everything together.
“It was the best I’ve ever seen them play,” said Jordan. “Once they hit a certain level, it’ll become second nature to them and they’ll just feel how it’s supposed to work out there in different situations. This weekend watching them, it was like, ‘OK, I think we’re there.’”
Jordan said the team was a bit flat in the first half of the final, but that a quick chat at half time “lit a bit of a fire underneath them” and that the side really responded in the second half.
“We dominated the second half and the two overtime periods,” said Jordan. “Their keeper stood on his head and stopped five for-sure goals and our defensive line played unbelievable - we only allowed one shot the whole game.”
As a coach, he was happy with the way the team played. As a competitor, the loss was still tough to swallow.
“The boys deserved that trophy,” said Jordan. “That’s the way sport goes — sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”
All of this season’s efforts are in the buildup to the Westerns, and Jordan feels like his team is ready to take another step forward.
“Coming from the Yukon, we’re always the underdogs,” said Jordan. “Last fall at nationals when we won multiple games and started playing up to the par that we needed to be at for these events, it really started then.”
While he said his team might not fully understand its potential, Jordan isn’t afraid to voice his thoughts on how they are playing, saying standing on the sideline watching the team excel was something he’ll never forget.
“Just the all-around moment when I was like, ‘This is it. These boys have reached this and we’re steamrolling from here,’” said Jordan.
The team is headed to Edmonton for a series of friendlies before some final training here at home.
And as for what to expect at the games in Saskatchewan? Jordan again isn’t afraid to share his confidence in his side.
“I expect to get a medal at the games,” said Jordan. “And I don’t think that’s being overconfident the way they’re playing. We just played against 19-year-olds and it didn’t affect them one bit.”
Yukon 05/06 Selects finish 1-3
Another Yukon team was also competing in Alaska this weekend, as the Yukon 05/06 Selects took part in the under 14 division, finishing with one win and three losses in four games.
The team opened the tournament with an 8-3 loss to Arsenal 06 boys and a 4-1 loss to Valley Rev 05/06 boys before regrouping for a 4-2 win against CISC 05/06 boys.
Arsenal 05 boys then defeated the team 6-0 in the final game for the Yukoners.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com