They battled back hard, but in the end it was not enough as the Yorkton United U14 boys team is still without a victory in Saskatchewan Premier Soccer League play after a 4-3 home loss to Regina’s Unidad Juniors.
The loss gives United a 0-5 record in their inaugural SPSL season and sole possession of last place in the U14 league, four back of closest club Lakewood Atletico and 12 points away from first place Unidad Seniors.
The game started well for United, as the young Yorkton club carried the play to open the contest. But it was Unidad Juniors, however, that would open the scoring when Josh Harle beat the Yorkton keeper for his second goal of the season to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Harle increased the Unidad Junior advantage not long after with his second of the game before Deacon Shaw made it 3-0 for the Regina based club.
Yorkton’s Matthew Cochrane cut into the Unidad Junior lead late in the first half with his first of the season to send the two teams into half time with Regina Unidad Juniors leading 3-1.
The two teams traded scoring opportunities to begin the second half, but it was the visitors who would once again strike early. Unidad Junior midfielder Noah Ziolkowski burst in on the Yorkton keeper and buried the right footed strike to increase the Regina lead to three at 4-1.
However the boys from Yorkton United would not go away as the home side began to dominate play, peppering the Regina keeper with shots and forcing him to make spectacular saves.
The continuous Yorkton pressure finally got to Unidad Juniors as Cochrane would net his second of the game to bring Yorkton to within two at 4-2.
A last minute goal by leading scorer Matthew Mandziuk, his fourth of the season, made it 4-3, however United simply ran out of time as the final whistle sounded to end the game in favour of Unidad Juniors 4-3.
After the game Yorkton United U14 assistant coach Steven DeLong acknowledged the fact that his club played with intensity at the beginning and towards the end of the game, however that intensity faltered through the middle portion of the match; something that needs to change should they have any hope of the postseason. “We came on at the end and carried the play,” mentioned DeLong. “But I think that one thing we’ve got to work on is bringing the same intensity that we had at the beginning and end throughout the whole game.
“We started off really well and then a goal went in and as soon as that goal went in we kind of dropped off and they get three on us and we were fighting to come back from there.”
Two players that DeLong noticed did not suffer from the intensity drop off, however, were two-goal scorer Matthew Cochrane and diminutive defender Brady Gelowitz, both of whom put a full effort into the 4-3 defeat. “He plays twice his size,” offered DeLong on Gelowitz. “He’s one of the examples to look at to see that size doesn’t matter. He gets up for headers with anyone and he’s always competing hard.
“As for Cochrane, we were just playing with the lone striker for much of the game and he (Cochrane) put in a lot of running,” mentioned the United assistant coach. “I was pretty proud of him today for sure.”
Injuries pile up
The 0-5 record for Yorkton United U14 might be due in large part to the fact that many players have been injured throughout the season.
Team leaders such as Jordin Rusnack (hamstring) and Dami Ogunbiyi (wrist) are still nursing injuries, while others have spent time on the shelf throughout the season with a few more possibly being added to the lengthy injury list. “We keep getting all these injuries we can never have the same lineup. We haven’t had the same starting lineup for two straight games yet,” suggested DeLong, continuing, “Dami hurt his wrist in one of our games a few weeks ago and then came back and kind of injured it again at AMPO for camp so he’s just coming back from that. And Jordin Rusnack is a big player for us as well and he’s hurt his hamstring so he’s probably out for about a month yet so we’re missing some key players.
“Add to that that a few guys from this game had to come off due to injuries there so we’re dropping like flies.”
However DeLong believes that once the injured players heal, the young Yorkton United U14 club will be a team that can compete with the majority of the teams in the league, saying, “I can see that, in a month when we’re healthy we’ll take some good results and get some W’s for sure. I have no doubt in my mind.”
The next action for Yorkton United U14 (0-5) will be this Saturday, June 14 when they visit Regina’s Leibel Field to take on the top-of-the-table Unidad Seniors (4-0), who are led by talented striker Rodrigo Santamaria (10 goals).
The next home game for United will be Saturday, June 21 when they welcome Aurora Diablo to Yorkton.