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Soccer victories in Grande Prairie
Teams return with gold and silver medals

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gold and silver were the colours of victory for five Deh Cho teams that competed in Ernie's Rock Around the Clock Tournament in Grande Prairie, Alta.

NNSL photo/graphic

The U19 soccer team that won gold at Ernie's Rock Around the Clock Tournament in Grande Prairie, Alta., included, from left, coach Shane Thompson, Ross Duntra, Tyrone Stipdonk, Brent Kotchea, Joel Evans, Brayton Blesse, Adrien Tremblay, Devon Horassi, Steven Thompson, Cody Lambert, Gus Mandeville, Tyler Bell, Desmond McDonald and manager Gordon Thompson, front row, Rylan Hardisty-Gillis. - photo courtesy of Shane Thompson

The teams tested their skills against competitors from the NWT and Alberta from April 27 to 29. For one team, winning its final game didn't guarantee a gold medal.

The U19 girls team started the tournament with a narrow loss 4-3 to Hay River. The game marked the first time the players, including three from Fort Simpson, four from Fort Smith and one from Grande Prairie, had played together. In the first half, they didn't know each other's names, said Allison Jacobson who coached the team along with Nathan Jacobson.

He said amazingly it only took the athletes the first half of their first game to get organized. In their second game, Velocity won 6-3 against Fort Resolution. By using good communication, the girls were able to take advantage of the mistakes Fort Resolution made, Jacobson said.

"The girls stepped up and played really, really hard and wanted to win," she said.

Following the double round-robin format, Velocity played Fort Resolution again and won 3-2 before meeting Hay River. Having lost two of their Fort Smith players who left the tournament early, the team picked up Angel Kotchea from Fort Liard and Harley Betsedea and Meegwun Cazon from Fort Simpson. The younger players were nervous but they stepped up, Jacobson, said.

The team went on to defeat Hay River 2-1 with Kotchea scoring the first goal. The win, however, gave the two teams identical records with three wins and one loss.

It was only by having scored two more goals through the round-robin that Velocity won the division.

The U19 boys team was also at the top of the podium. Thunderstruck, which included athletes from Fort Simpson, Fort Liard and Fort Smith, went undefeated in their three round-robin games and played Hay River in the finals.

At halftime Thunderstruck was down 2-0. With only 15 minutes left in the final period Adrien Tremblay scored the team's first goal.

A second goal came three minutes later and Ross Duntra scored the tie-breaking goal to make the score 3-2. A final goal by Tremblay finished the game.

"The boys played really well," said Shane Thompson, the team's coach.

Thompson made special note of the team's goalie, Rylan Hardisty-Gillis, who he said played very well.

Silver medals went to the U12 girls All Stars. The team, comprised of Fort Simpson, Wrigley, Fort Liard and Hay River athletes, won three games and lost one.

In the finals, the All Stars battled with a Grande Prairie team with the lead going back and forth. In the last minute, Grande Prairie scored a final goal allowing to win 6-5.

The girls ran hard and played their positions, said Leanne Jose, the team's coach.

Meegwun Cazon, one of the All Stars, said the tournament in Grande Prairie is different than the local Connie Loutit Memorial Tournament because the competition is tougher.

"It was really fun," she said.

Later in the tournament, Cazon joined the U19 girls team. Cazon said she felt both proud and excited to be playing on the older team. It wasn't that much of a challenge and the team did really well, she said.

Jose also coached the U12 boys Red Bulls. The Red Bulls won one game and lost three. The athletes got better with every game, Jose said.

"They were very good sports," she said. "They tried hard to the end."

The Deh Cho also fielded a U14 girls team. The team had a record of one loss, one tie and one win in the round robin. In the bronze-medal game, the team lost 3-2 to Fort Smith.

"The kids were positive," said Val Gendron, the team's coach.

Athletes from Fort Simpson also played with the U14 and U16 Fort Smith boys teams at the tournament.

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