Whitehorse Daily Star

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YUKON GAL ON THE BACKLINE – Katie Lowey is entering her fourth season with the University of Calgary Dinos. Photo courtesy DAVID MOLL/UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY

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Camille Galloway Nick Gillen

Strikers alumni impress at camp, make the grade

Some of the territory’s top young soccer players are aiming to leave their marks on the university soccer pitch this season.

By Marcel Vander Wier on September 11, 2014

Some of the territory’s top young soccer players are aiming to leave their marks on the university soccer pitch this season.

According to research compiled by the Yukon Soccer Association, seven Yukon Strikers alumni will suit up for universities across the country during the 2014/2015 season, on campuses from Antigonish, N.S., to Kelowna, B.C.

“It’s important,” John MacPhail, head coach of the Yukon Soccer Association, told the Star. “There’s a lot of kids who play up here who don’t think there are those opportunities.

“We’re now in a process of trying to make sure the kids are aware of the avenues available to them.”

Among female athletes, Katie Lowey will patrol the backline with the University of Calgary Dinos for the fourth straight year this fall.

“Being on the team has definitely made university a great experience – better than I could imagine,” said Lowey, 21.

Coming from the North and making an impression is difficult, Lowey admitted.

“No one really knows you,” she said. “A lot of girls from Calgary already know the coaches, so in that sense it’s pretty tough. But it’s also great, because there’s great support in the Yukon.”

While Lowey is one of the team’s senior players, a large crop of 15 recruits means playing time is harder to come by this season.

“(Our coach) didn’t red-shirt anyone, so everyone’s still trying to figure it out. It will be interesting to see what happens with play time.”

The Dinos are attempting to make the playoffs for the second straight year following a four-year drought.

“Our team goal this year is definitely to win, and then make it to nationals – and hopefully compete well there,” Lowey said.

Meanwhile, Camille Galloway and Sam Burgis both made the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat roster as rookies, although Burgis will spend the season on the injury reserve.

The duo won gold together at the Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks earlier this year.

Galloway made the Heat as a walk-on this season.

“Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I worked really hard this summer,” she said. “We didn’t have a team, so I trained with Jake Hanson’s academy and a boys team ... I basically made sure my fitness and skill on the ball was there. I think my fitness was what really got me on the team.”

The 18-year-old centre-midfielder said cracking a university squad is hard to do for Northerners.

“Coming from the Yukon, it’s really hard to have game experience,” she said. “So I feel like a Yukon player has to have skill and fitness.”

Galloway said she’s not expecting to play a big role this season, but is looking to improve her game.

A group of Yukon men, led by St. Francis Xavier keeper Nick Gillen, also hope to make an impression on the pitch this season.

Gillen, 22, is in his second year with the X-Men after previously serving a stint with the University of Lethbridge.

As one of four keepers on the roster, Gillen said his goal is to earn a spot on the 18-man game roster.

“We have four great goalies here,” Gillen explained. “The four of us are eligible to play, and the top performers of that week will be the guys who get picked. It’s tough and competitive, which is important.”

While playing time decisions ultimately rest with the coaching staff, Gillen said he is proud to show a Yukoner can play at the university level.

“It feels good to make the Yukon look good,” he said. “I know when we’ve gone out to tournaments in the past, teams have looked at us like ‘Oh my god, it’s just the Yukon. What are they doing here?’

“But by being on a university team ... I feel like you’re representing where you come from and who you’ve played for.”

Gillen is the only Yukoner with a chance to see game action, as Dominic Korn, Owen Hedstrom-Langford and Belgie Nunez-Zuniga were all red-shirted with their respective teams.

Korn and Hedstrom-Langford both made the University of British Columbia Okanagan team as walk-ons, while Nunez-Zuniga earned a training role with MacEwan University in Edmonton.

MacPhail said he hopes to host a meet-and-greet between future stars and university players who return home for the Christmas holidays.

“We have to pat these kids on the back for making these teams,” he said.


Another Yukon soccer player to make an impression outside of the territory is Callum Wood Ryan, who continues to hone his skills in Arizona.

Wood Ryan recently signed on with Real Salt Lake’s developmental academy for the season, after he was granted his release from the Vancouver Whitecaps organization.

Earlier this summer, young up-and-comers Tyler Milton and Matthias Hoenisch participated in the 30th anniversary of the USA Cup tournament in Minneapolis, Minn.

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