Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Photo Submitted

GOLDEN GOALS – The Whitehorse FC Avalanche U11 boy’s team celebrate their gold medal after winning their division in the Edmonton West Zone Soccer Association Slush Cup. The team won the gold-medal game Sunday 5-3.

Yukon soccer teams bring home hardware

Two Yukon youth soccer teams went down to Edmonton for an indoor soccer tournament,

By Whitehorse Star on March 8, 2018

Two Yukon youth soccer teams went down to Edmonton for an indoor soccer tournament, showing the game is strong in the territory with both teams taking back medals.

The Whitehorse FC Avalanche U11 boy’s team took home the gold medal in their division and the Dawson City Lions U10 boy’s team (and one girl) won the bronze.

Competing in the Edmonton West Zone Soccer Association Slush Cup, one of the largest youth indoor soccer tournaments, the two Yukon teams did not lose a game during their trip.

In the first time out of the territory for the young Dawson team, coach Johnny Nunan said the team experienced a lot of firsts and were incredibly resilient on their way to the bronze-medal game.

“To go from playing futsal five aside to arena soccer where you’re using walls and backboards and all that sort of stuff, it’s a huge step up for them. And you know what, they excelled,” Nunan said. Every player improved and every player got a brand new nickname because of their abilities there.”

In the six-team U10 division, the Lions tied their first game 2-2 after leading early in the game.

With only two round-robin games before the gold and bronze-medal games, Nunan said had they hung on to win that game they could have had a chance at the gold.

In their second game, Nunan said the team went down 2-0 early in the game, but showed resiliency and battled back to win the game 6-3.

“I knew the way these kids are, they are such a special group. I knew we were going to win this game,” he said. “It was awesome to witness.”

Finishing second in their group based on goal differential, the Lions automatically advanced to compete for the bronze without semifinals in the tournament.

The Lions won the hard-fought game 2-1 to bring the bronze hardware back to the territory in their first away competition.

Their Yukon compatriots in the U11 boy’s division continued the territory’s winning ways in Edmonton by dominating their two round-robin games to advance to the gold-medal game.

“We were quite shocked to slaughter teams in a few games,” Avalanche head coach Grant Zazula said. “It was a great experience, they just had a phenomenal tournament. They played hard and played smart and had a lot of fun and had some success.”

The final game was like an “old school street fight” Zazula noted with a few yellow cards given to both teams.

“It was a really physical game and that’s one thing our teams from the Yukon have trouble with as we don’t have competition at a high physical level,” Zazula said.

But Zazula said the team realized what they had to do to win, reacted well, and used their speed and athleticism to win the game 5-3.

The team also faced a penalty kick in the game that was saved by the Avalanche goalie. Player Cy McDowell lead the division in scoring with seven goals, four in the final.

The coach said the success of both Yukon teams shows that soccer is moving in the right direction in the territory.

“We do a lot of training up here and it’s nice to experience some success and realize we’re doing something right with how we’re coaching and training,” he said.

When receiving their gold medals, Zazula said a tournament organizer said the Avalanche team improved the most throughout the tournament and questioned if soccer was even played in the Yukon.

But with gold and bronze medals coming back to the territory, they now know the answer and Zazula said the Avalanche hope to return next year and show them again.

Be the first to comment

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.