Although they didn’t come away with gold, the coaches for East Three Elementary School’s boys’ and girls’ soccer teams both agreed that this year was one of the more successful runs that the school has had in all of their years competing in Yellowknife’s Junior Super Soccer tournament.
“This is the best we’ve ever done as a team. We made it to the quarterfinals and actually competed. They didn’t get blown out,” said Nadine Wagner, the school’s gym teacher who served as one of the coaches for the boys’ team.
The boys’ team, which was made up of eight students in Grades 5 and 6, played four games in total during the tournament, which ran from April 26 to 28. They won every game except for their quarterfinal match, losing 8-4 to Kugluktuk High School.
“The boys fought hard, but they didn’t have enough stamina to keep it going. The second half of the second half, we couldn’t keep up anymore,” said Wagner. “They were just so tired. I think if we had a couple more on the bench, we could’ve done a little better.”
Kugluktuk had 14 players compared to Inuvik’s eight, according to Wagner.
“Our guys were pretty tired near the end. But they played really well,” she said.
What made the team so successful, she continued, was their ability to work together.
“It wasn’t a one-man team. They took the chance to work together,” she said. “They didn’t make it a kick-and-run game. They actually could stop the ball, take a look and find the pass.”
Similarly, the Grade 6 girls’ team only had seven players, but they made their presence felt in the tournament by finishing second in their division and placing third in the entire tournament. They made it to the semifinals, but lost 3-2 in double overtime to William McDonald School.
Maryssa Camacho, a French immersion teacher who served as one of the coaches for the girls’ team, said that she was impressed by the effort displayed by the girls.
“It was disappointing, but we tied in the semis and lost in double overtime. That’s the furthest we’ve ever gotten in Yellowknife…It was probably the year where we had the closest competition,” said Camacho.
She added that she was proud of how far the team advanced, despite the fact they have only been practicing for two-and-a-half months.
“Competing against girls who practice year-round and have a field house. Some of our girls compared to some of the top players in Yellowknife,” she said. “They were deking, kicking properly. They got all their soccer from gym class. Imagine if we played year-round.”
Thanks to the tournament, Camacho said the players have realized what they are capable of achieving.
“Just because we live in Inuvik doesn’t mean we don’t get the opportunity to go down and play in these tournaments,” she said. “We’re able to actually play good games where it’s pretty close. They were so happy and proud of themselves.”