The U18 Canada Summer Games boys soccer squad is gaining valuable experience ahead of this summer’s showcase tournament.
Two weeks ago, the team went unbeaten at the Surrey Mayor’s Cup on the lower mainland and returned to Whitehorse to capture the Yukon Metro Soccer League title in their first season in the league.
Coach Edgar Musonda said the team had been hoping to win a few games at the Surrey competition, which is open to teams in Canada and the U.S.
The last time they’d competed, they only won one game.
“We ended up winning all the games,” Musonda said earlier this week.
The win marked a high-point for the squad, which has been developing their skills on and off the soccer pitch since Musonda began coaching them ahead of the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games.
Since that first tournament together, coach and players have embarked on a journey of soccer education.
Musonda is a man with a plan and most recently, he’s been trying to develop the competitiveness of the players.
This phase of his plan involved the boys playing in the Yukon Metro Soccer League, which they joined in the fall.
In the beginning, they were a “little bit scared,” said Musonda, but they’ve been gaining confidence with every game.
They struggled early in the season, but pulled off a series of major upsets to win the final last Friday.
Their success in Surrey has only furthered their game.
“It just put the boys’ confidence way high,” said Musonda.
They opened the tournament with a 2-1 win over South Burnaby Metro Soccer. Skyler Bryant, who recently inked a deal with Dalhousie University to play soccer in the fall, scored the team’s pair of goals. It would also be the final game that keeper Frejean Pourier allowed in the tournament.
Game two had the Yukon boys facing the Central City Breakers Inter. They braved heavy rain to win the match 2-0 with Bryant and Matthias Hoenisch scoring.
Game three they took on the Central City Breakers Eagles, winning 1-0 with another goal from Bryant.
Their final game was against the Sunshine Coast Thunderbirds. The Yukon boys prevailed, winning 3-0 on goals from Simon Kishchuk, Bryant and Ewan Campbell.
When Musonda first started working with the team, he said the players were all individuals. Now, they work together.
“Now we’re able to make seven or eight passes, then take a shot on goal,” he said.
“They were able to motivate each other.”
He’s noticed other changes in their playing style too. Before, they would just follow his instructions on the field. Now, they are able to control play on their own.
“They say they’ve never had this ever since they started playing soccer as kids,” Musonda said of the team’s recent major wins.
He hopes they will be able to play in one more tournament before the team travels to Winnipeg for the Western Canada Summer Games.
Musonda said that the team’s success also wouldn’t be possible without parental support.
“They’ve been very passionate and supportive.”