With everything on the line in a best of three series, it was Canada that came out on top as the champions during the second annual JJ Soccer Umbro Christmas Cup.
Kids playing in the under-14 and under-16 boys and girls divisions were split into Team Canada and Team USA for three games at the field house over the weekend. Canada won the final match 6-4 on Sunday after the teams played to a draw on Friday and Saturday.
“It has been a lot of fun,” stated Jason Jones, event organizer. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
It wasn’t about the points or goals scored; rather the focus of the tournament was for players to develop their skills and creating a balance of competitiveness and having fun.
“It is one of those things that we have been working on — that competitive balance. We want to make sure it is fun and not too much pressure on winning. To have this kind of opportunity and they can play against their friends, but still be competitive (is important),” stated Jones. “That’s the balance we are trying to find. You can still have all these kids hanging out afterwards, but when they are on the field, they know that it means something to represent their team. I’ve been searching for that balance for a long time in this community and we are finally starting to get it.”
Canada 5 USA 5
Team USA was ahead for most of the game, but Team Canada came from behind late to tie the game. USA got three goals from Dorion Zambuchini and singles from Daniel Degirolamo and Dilnessa. For Canada, Shae Zwozdesky, Meko Cridland, Bryton Slater, Gillian Francis and Isaac Brown added singles.
Canada 1 USA 1
Canada took a lead early, but Team USA put on the pressure in the second half to tie the game.
“It was a much more defensive struggle,” stated Jones.
The lone scorers were Kate Scidmore for Team USA and Cridland for Canada.
Canada 6 USA 4
Team Canada held a 5-2 lead at the half, but then the USA scored two straight goals to cut the lead.
“The States came roaring back and caused us a little panic at the end,” said Jones.
Slater led the way for Canada with five goals and Cridland added another. The USA team got goals from Zambuchini, Scidmore, Degirolamo and Zihao.
“I am very excited and it was a fantastic game. I was happy with the level of play, considering that all these players are local players,” said Jones. “The fact that the games are that close is fantastic. It is nice to see.”
For more on this story, read an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald.