It has been a rough first season in the Saskatchewan Premier Soccer League for the Yorkton United U14 soccer team, who have yet to get a solid footing in the top flight of soccer in the province.
Heading into play this past weekend against both Regina Unidad Juniors and Seniors, United was just 1-6-1 for four points and last place in the eight team league.
And both Unidad teams made sure it got a whole lot rougher, as United fell 8-1 to Juniors on Saturday in Regina and 13-3 at home to the Senior squad on Sunday.
Yorkton United had high hopes heading into Saturday’s rematch with Regina Unidad Juniors, having lost to the young club by a 4-3 score in their previous game in Yorkton, despite heavily outplaying the Queen City-based team for much of the contest.
However weather conditions and playing surface got the better of the Yorkton lads on the day, enabling the host Unidad Junior club to impose their will on the United team in the form of an 8-1 drubbing. “It was an extremely tough game for us,” offered United U14 head coach Mike Jakubiec after the game. “We were playing on a turf field for the first time and it was in +30 weather. The boys found it really difficult and they weren’t able to cope with the conditions.” Jakubiec then went on to mention that the heat and field surface, combined with the overall weak performance, led to the lopsided score.
But while many Yorkton players struggled on the day, Jakubiec felt that one player played extremely well. Despite allowing eight goals, U14 goalkeeper Shane once again showed improvement in his play, which is something that Jakubiec has noticed throughout the season. “He did very well,” mentioned the Yorkton United U14 coach. “Sure, he conceded a lot of goals but to be honest it was more the team in front of him playing poorly. He made some nice saves and played well.
“As a coach I’ve noticed that he has by far seen the biggest improvement over the year and we’re happy with his development.”
Shelled on Sunday
One day after being run off the pitch by Unidad Juniors 8-1, the boys from Yorkton United were back in action.
This time their opponent was top-of-the-table Unidad Seniors; a team which had conceded just three goals over seven matches and led the league with four clean sheets en route to an unblemished 7-0-0 record.
Early on, however, United went punch-for-punch with Saskatchewan’s top team, keeping the game scoreless for much of the first half.
But with less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half the vaunted Unidad offence flexed their muscles, slicing through the Yorkton defence for five goals, three by league top scorer Rodrigo Santamaria, to take a 5-0 lead midway through the game.
A 5-0 lead generally meant that Unidad would sit back and play defence for the second half, holding the opposition offence at bay to give keeper Spencer Reding yet another shutout.
That strategy, however, did not work this time as Yorkton came out of the break firing.
United star striker Dami Ogunbiyi’s initial shot was saved, but the rebound went right to Matthew Cochrane who hammered the ball past Reding to cut the Unidad lead to four.
The Unidad advantage was once again diminished as, moments later, Nicholas Fetsch beat Reding to make it 5-2.
But cutting the Unidad lead to three was as close as United would come as the offensive juggernaut known as Regina Unidad regained their grip on the match, pumping eight more goals into the Yorkton net, two more by Santamaria giving him 21 in eight games, while United could muster just one more in response, off the foot of Cochrane, in the 13-3 defeat.
Despite the loss, head coach Mike Jakubiec said he was happy with the way his club played against a much larger, older and more experienced club. “We started with an all junior centre-back squad meaning they are a year younger than Unidad and probably half the size and body mass,” laughed the head coach. “But I still think they did quite well.
“They’re a very big, strong, skilled team so we had trouble coping with that but we still could have had two or three more goals in the game.”
Jakubiec then went on to mention that, while they have had trouble keeping the ball out of their net, they haven’t had much trouble scoring.
A statement proved by the fact that, despite sitting in last place, Yorkton United has the fourth best offence in the league with 26 goals for. “Today we showed that we can score goals on anyone,” said Jakubiec, continuing, “That’s been the case the whole season, we’ve been dangerous every time we step on the pitch. It’s just that sometimes we have trouble keeping the ball out of our net.
“I think that’s been the story of the season.”
The Yorkton United U14 team has the next weekend off when it comes to league play. The next league action will be Saturday, July 19, when they welcome Saskatoon’s SUSC Titans to Parkland Mall Field for a 1:00pm start.