No dominant performance by William McDonald School this year but Yellowknife was still the best on the court when it comes to the final results of Junior Super Soccer.
William McDonald did win three of the banners this year with two of them coming in the Grade 8 division and both wins coming at the expense of Rankin Inlet at the Fieldhouse on Sunday. The girls squad had perhaps the tougher of the two wins as they had to hold off a determined bunch from the Kivalliq to claim a 2-1 win.
Wendy Malkin was William McDonald’s head coach and said the best way to describe the game was physical.
“Very physical out there and it’s what you expect in a championship game,” she said. “They (Rankin Inlet) were a little rougher than what we thought but I just told the girls to play their game and not worry about it and not get frustrated. Once you get frustrated, it turns the entire game around.”
The game remained at 2-1 for most of the second half, which caused Rankin Inlet to begin playing more of its players up front in attack mode to try and find an equalizer, one that wouldn’t materialize as William McDonald was able to withstand the attack.
“They always had three or four players up at a time and we were forced to keep defending,” said Malkin. “They just kept coming at us, they never stopped.”
Malkin’s crew was able to run the table all weekend long, winning all seven of their games including the round-robin and playoffs, but Malkin was quick to give all the credit to her troops.
“I don’t pat myself on the back at all,” she said. “The girls are the ones who get all the mention. I’ve been coaching this bunch since Grade 6, they play hard all the time and the way they play, they absolutely deserve it.”
William McDonald made it a trio of banners this year as the school’s Grade 7 boys squad took top spot. Range Lake North won a banner of their own by winning the Grade 6 girls title and Weledeh’s Grade 7 girls were victorious. The Grade 6 boys banner went due North as the Kugluktuk Grizzlies ended up leaving with that crown.
Overall, everything went as smooth as it could have, according to Ryan Nichols, the tournament’s whip.
“We had 52 teams when you take in every division and gender and grade,” he said. “No major issues and everything went smoothly.”
The worry is there whenever you have that many teams playing in a tournament, he added, and there are always things that pop up pre-tournament, as was the case with Rankin Inlet.
“We have to alter things a bit with Rankin Inlet getting weathered in,” he said. “They were scheduled to come in early Wednesday but that didn’t happen so we had to push things back but it didn’t affect the overall outcome.”
There was also the mix-up of spring break in the South Slave region, which Nichols said was something that no one remembered and it’s the main reason only one team from Hay River made the trip up.
“We never even thought of that because we thought they were on the same schedule as we were,” he said.
This year’s tournament had a brand new sponsor in the form of Booster Juice as it provided the player of the game awards for each contest.
“We put the word out that we were looking for someone to jump on board and they filled in real good,” said Nichols.