Hopes still high after winless start

Matthew Gourlie
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Local U14 boys unbeaten; U16 girls win silver at soccer provs.

It has been a gloomy weekend for the Moose Jaw Storm.

Kurtis Munro, left, from the Moose Jaw Under-16 Storm holds off the challenge of Caleb Paterson from the Lloydminster Gmack Drillers Sunday afternoon at the Canada Games field in Moose Jaw.

Despite dropping their first three games at the provincial eight-a-side and 11-a-side Youth Sport for Life Soccer Championship in Moose Jaw, the local under-16 boys soccer team is looking ahead to a brighter day.

The Storm lost 3-1 to the Lloydminster Gmack Drillers in a steady downpour Sunday afternoon to drop to 0-3 at the tournament. Despite being winless their hopes aren't sunk yet.

"The good news is that with the way the draw is sitting and because we haven't allowed a lot of goals, we're still in it. If we can win (Monday), we can get enough points to get into second place," said under-16 Storm coach Jaysen Tomashewski. "As luck of the draw happens, we got in the small pool and we can still make it."

The Storm could still fight their way into a semifinal spot with a win over Humboldt Monday at 11:30 a.m. Humboldt has a pair of ties in their first two games.

The Storm opened the tournament with a 2-0 loss to the Lakewood Falcons and followed that with a 3-1 loss to Swift Current United.

"We didn't play well. We came out flat and couldn't get anything going," said Tomashewski who felt his team has been settling in as the tournament has progressed. "From the second half of the first game Saturday to the second of our last game (Sunday), we came up a gear. If we can start (Monday) the way we ended this one, we're going to be in it."

The Storm had their best half of the tournament Sunday against the unbeaten Drillers. Nathanial Liew scored in the second half to get Moose Jaw back to within a goal, but a late goal by the unbeaten Drillers ended their comeback hopes.

The Storm were 4-0 in league play and had out-scored their opponents 27-9 over those games heading into the provincial tournament.

"This is the first time we've really been tested," said Tomashewski. "Unfortunately it had to happen in this tournament, but we're finally finding another gear and these guys are starting to turn it around and play the way that they can play.

"We finally see the guys connecting. We're finally seeing some give-and-gos, we're finally seeing some overlaps. We're seeing out midfielders come back and playing the supportive defence that we need instead of leaving our fullbacks out to dry."

The Storm have been playing in the Regina Soccer Association's under-16 league which features a couple of developmental sides. They had a good league test against Regina's ACFC Pumas — who are also at provincials — but they only met each other once as the wet weather has led to three of their league games being cancelled.

"Unfortunately the teams we've faced so far this year haven't challenged us much," said Tomashewski. "Had we seen (ACFC) a couple of more times we might have been better prepared."

Tomashewski noted that his team is starting to think and play the game at a higher tempo as the weekend progressed.

"All of those things we've been trying to get them to do, are finally starting to happen. They're starting to figure it out at speed," he added.

In the under-16 girls eight-a-side division, Regina's Unidad defeated the Moose Jaw Storm 4-1 in the final as the local team claimed silver medals.

Moose Jaw's under-14 boys are undefeated after two days in the 11-a-side division. They beat AC Pumas Red 4-0 to open the tournament and then beat the SUSC Spartans 2-1. They will face Swift Current United (3:15 p.m., Smith East) today to conclude pool play.

Action continues Monday at Smith Field, Canada Games Field and VLA Field. The division finals will be played Tuesday.

Organizations: Regina Soccer Association, ACFC

Geographic location: Moose Jaw

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