Yukon’s Canada Summer Games men’s soccer team didn’t mind playing four matches in the rain.
At the end they were wet but golden.
Team Yukon went undefeated in four matches with three shutouts along the way to win the top U18 male division at the Surrey Mayor’s Cup, March 10-12 in Surrey, B.C.
“I think it was all because of defensive work. I think we have a really strong defensive lineup, which was being marshaled by Matthias (Hoenisch),” said Yukon head coach Edgar Musonda. “I think the boys had a lot of confidence at the back, putting the balls in the midfield, which allowed us to continue the play without panicking…. We were able to maintain possession and I think the other biggest strength of the team was ball retention.”
Yukon captured gold by winning four straight round robin matches against B.C. teams. With the Canada Games still a long time away, technically the Yukon team is a training squad, but “being in the Yukon it’s almost guaranteed all the boys are going to go,” said Musonda.
Yukon opened with a 2-1 win against South Burnaby Metro. It was the only goal scored on Yukon and goalkeeper Frejean Pourier in Surrey.
“We almost didn’t concede a goal,” said Musonda. “It was a lucky one. The ball just bounced of someone and went in.
“We were very solid at the back and our goalkeeper did some fantastic saves as well.”
Captain Skyler Bryant scored both Yukon goals against South Burnaby.
They then went 2-0 over Surrey’s Central City Breakers. Hoenisch and Bryant posted both goals for Yukon.
Yukon then downed the Central City Breakers Eagles 1-0 with another goal by Bryant.
“We were under so much pressure the last 15 minutes,” said Musonda. “They kept attacking us and the boys held their own, were able to communicate very well and keep it strong at the back. At the end of the day it was their mental toughness, which I was happy to see.
“Most of the games we’ve played in past tournaments, when the other team scores a goal they get demoralized. But now we’re recovering really well, which is important going to the Summer Games. We need that mental toughness.”
Yukon secured the gold medal with a 3-0 win over the Sunshine Coast Thunderbirds. Simon Kishchuk, Bryant and Ewan Campbell scored.
Bryant, who notched five of his team’s eight goals in Surrey, recently signed on to play at Dalhousie University in Halifax when he begins school there in the fall.
“He scored fantastic goals. It just shows how ready he is for his next challenge, going to university,” said Musonda. “He led as a good captain and I think that was very much appreciated by the rest of us.”
The Canada Summer Games will take place July 28 to Aug. 13 in Winnipeg, Man.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org