Playing for provincial gold

Katie Brickman
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Three local teams in soccer provincials

A lot of soccer players are hoping for sun.

Moose Jaw Soccer Association

The Moose Jaw Soccer Association (MJSA) is as well, as they and the Saskatchewan Soccer Association, prepare to host the Soccer for Life Outdoor Youth Provincial Championships this weekend.

“We are doing sun dances to make sure it doesn’t rain,” said John Shurniak, office manager for MJSA.

The forecast is calling for rain throughout the weekend, which could wreck havoc on the fields and the possibility of play.

“It really does depend on what the fields look like. We don’t want to cancel; obviously a lot of teams are travelling from far away,” said Shurniak. “The safety of the players is important as well. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.”

There will be 45 different teams in the Friendly City in various divisions and age levels. The competition will consist of 8V8 and 11V11 in under-14, under-16 and under-18 for both male and female age groups.

Three local Storm teams — boys under-14 (11V11), boys under-16 (11V11) and girls under-16 (8V8) will be playing for provincial supremacy.

“I like our chances with all three of the teams,” he said.

The U14 boys Storm team might have the hardest test, as there are 12 teams in their division.

“They have been winning games in the Regina league. This team won our indoor tournament in November,” said Shurniak. “They know how to win.”

The U16 boys Storm team has six other teams to compete with, but also could be in contention on Tuesday.

“The under-16 boys is basically the same team as last year that came to provincial. They are now a year older and stronger,” said Shurniak. “They lost in the semifinal in the eighth round of penalty kicks last year. I think they are a year stronger and have a good chance.”

The U16 girls team is 8V8 and will play two games against Unidad. Since they are the only two teams, they are guaranteed a medal.

“They are a younger team, but they have some talent there,” he said.

This is back-to-back years that Moose Jaw has hosted provincials. Having hosted last year has helped them plan better this year.

“We thought we did a pretty job at it and the SSA thought we did too, so we are back at it this year,” he said. “Last year we went in a little bit blind with what our expectations were because we hadn’t hosted an outdoor provincial tournament in a long time. Now, we know what the expectations are and what to expect this weekend. It makes organizing the event easier, for sure.”

On Sunday at 5 p.m., there will also be a Sask Energy skills competition where prizes can be won.

“They get to show off their individual skill sets in a fun environment,” said Shurniak.

Matches will be played at Canada Games Fields, Smith Fields and VLA.

The action begins on Saturday and playoff games will be held Tuesday.

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