The Coral Harbour U19 girls team romped its way to the territorial A Division banner at the Super Soccer tournament in Yellowknife May 4 to 6.
“The girls win was everything to the community and that’s super important to us because without the community we really wouldn’t be going anywhere,” said head coach Alyssa Whitney. “That tournament is the one they practice hard for two or three times a week and look so forward to attending. It’s definitely their Stanley Cup event of the year.”
Coral defeated Hay River’s Diamond Jenness High School by a score of 7-1 to claim A Division gold at the event. The Coral squad only lost one game during the tournament.
The Coral U15 boy’s team lost in its semifinal, while the Rankin Inlet U15 boys took silver, losing in the A final to St. Patrick’s High School of Yellowknife.
Whitney said the girls on the U19 team have been playing together for quite a number of years and know each other really well. It seems they’ve developed an innate sense of where their teammates are going to be on the field at any given time, she said.
“They have a super-good connection with each other,” she said. “They worked super well both on and off the field, and that made a huge difference.”
Coral’s U15 girls won silver at last year’s Super Soccer tournament and about half the players from that team joined this year’s U19 squad, she said.
The level of competition this year was much tougher than what they’d faced in previous years, said Whitney.
“It seems to be the small towns have the better teams right now, so there was some major competition at this year’s event,” she said.
The bigger communities all had between two to four teams at this year’s Super Soccer tournament, which spread out their overall talent level quite a bit. Being a smaller community was actually an advantage to Coral because they were able to choose the best players from the entire community to make one strong team, said Whitney.
“Another advantage for us is having the use of the gym whenever we want, meaning we can practice anytime we want,” she said.
The residents of Coral Harbour came together to raise the necessary funds to send the youths to the tournament. None of it would have been possible without their efforts, she said.
“We had to raise nearly $75,000 between the two teams for us to be able to go to Super Soccer,” said Whitney. “The community supports all our bake sales, penny sales, bingo games and movie nights and, without that support, we would never be able to raise that kind of money to go to the tournament.”
The Coral U19 girl’s team only has one player aging-out this year and Whitney said the players are already ramping up their spirits and looking forward to playing in the coming year.
“The players, both boys and girls, came to me this past week and asked if we could still continue to hold our weekly practice sessions even though our season has technically ended,” she said.
There are other events like the annual territorial tournament and the Arctic Winter Games qualifiers, which the Coral teams might attend but they’re primarily funded by Sport Nunavut and Nunavut Soccer.
“Super Soccer is the one we raise money all year to go to,” said Whitney. “It’s definitely the biggest one of the year our players anticipate.”