Of the five Yukon teams currently competing at the BMO Soccer Championships at various locations, none have secured a win. But there has been at least one close game and there’s still plenty of soccer to be played.
The territory’s closest contest thus far came with the U-16 girls team, the Yukon Strikers, losing a 4-3 battle with Nova Scotia on Wednesday in Winnipeg.
In the game, Nova Scotia went up 4-0, with three goals in the first half and one early in the second, before the Yukon scored three of their own. In the dying seconds of the game, Yukon’s Odette Rivard had a breakaway, but missed the chance to tie, sending her shot wide of the net.
“The intensity and level of play came up a bit,” said Yukon coach Monique Bennett. “In the second half, we put in a couple of the subs and they came out with lots of energy.
“It was a classic example of not giving up and playing until the whistle goes.”
Scoring for the Yukon were Mary Bennett with two and Terri Publicover with one.
On Thursday the Strikers played BC, losing 4-1. Getting Yukon’s lone goal was Helen Hedstrom-Langford, finding the top corner from 20 yards out.
“They played a really great game against them and just let in some unlucky goals,” said Bennett. “They played in terrible weather – a little bit of hail. I’m really happy with them, they played hard the whole time.”
The Strikers will be playing Manitoba on Saturday and will likely be grouped in the bottom-four of the playoffs to finish the nationals.
“Even though Manitoba beat BC 4-1, we’re hoping things can change,” said Bennett. “You play differently against different styles of play.”
The U-14 boys team, also called the Yukon Strikers, playing in Sydney, Nova Scotia, are also winless after two matches. Facing third seeded Alberta to start, the Strikers fell 15-0 on Wednesday.
“The Alberta team is totally awesome,” said Yukon coach Arnold Hedstrom. “They’re quick, they’re big and they play very, very well – they’re technically very skilled.”
On Thursday, after holding fourth-seeded Manitoba to 2-0 in the half, the Yukon boys eventually let in three more for a 5-0 loss.
“The boys played an excellent first half in extremely wet conditions, Cape Breton has been deluged with rain in the last 12 hours and we had 50- to 70-kilometre winds,” said Hedstrom. “Despite that, we controlled play in the first half, into the wind, but a couple got away from us.
“But we had a much better game against Manitoba than we did against Alberta.”
To wrap up the round-robin section of the nationals, the U-14 boys will play PEI, likely their best chance for a win before the playoffs.
“The lesson that we learned is that we can go out there and give a team a good go,” said Hedstrom. “I think Manitoba was fairly concerned at half time, losing the advantage of the wind and they definitely stepped up their play.
“I guess the lesson we learned is that we have to move the ball into scoring position a lot earlier because other teams are very quick to close you down.”
For the other Yukon teams, the U-16 boys Arctic Wolves have had some lopsided encounters in Winnipeg, losing 7-0 to Alberta Wednesday and 10-0 to Quebec the following day.
The U-14 girls Klondike Blizzards are also looking for their first win – and goal –
in Sydney, losing 13-0 to Quebec on Wednesday.
The Yukon Selects men’s team began their four-game round robin Thursday afternoon against Quebec and will play Nova Scotia on Friday before two more games over the weekend in Saskatoon. Thursday’s game took place after press time.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com