The Whistler Youth Soccer Association (WYSA) girls’ teams had some difficult games in the Surrey Mayor’s Cup earlier this month (March 6-8), but still managed to cap a strong 2015 season with what executive head coach Philippe Melun described as “beautiful soccer.”
The U18 girls registered in Division 1 in the Surrey tournament after winning all their games in the BC Coastal Girls Soccer League, facing off against four formidable Metro Vancouver teams.
“We were playing against teams where they select players from different clubs to make a very, very strong team,” said Melun. “In Whistler, all the girls we have, they play. It’s a talented team; they can display very nice, technical, fun-to-watch soccer, instead of relying on the physical (part) such as speed. It’s a very good group.”
Performance-wise, the U18s were playing on par with their competitors on the first day, but were running low on energy reserves for the second day and came home with four losses.
Coming off a fourth-place finish at the league playoffs, the U15 girls were also moved up to Division 1 and fared well in a mixed U15/U16 grouping, playing against many other older girls that were both stronger and more experienced.
“Most of the girls were in the U14 (age group), we don’t have enough girls to make a U15 team,” said Melun. “It was hard because the (opposing) girls were bigger, stronger and faster. But all the (WYSA) girls were better at playing real soccer. They were technical and spirited. They did well and we are really proud of them, it was really hard to get promoted to Division 1.”
MVP awards were handed to Caleigh Lamont, Jacqueline Perolli, Stefanie Tomcheck and Cassia Jean with all players leaving it on the field with a very thin bench of reserves. With the strong fourth place finish in the playoffs, the team received a wild card entry to the B Cup in April, the youth soccer’s playoffs on the road to the Provincial championships.
The U14 girls entered the Mayor’s Cup in Division 2 and came away with two wins and two losses. Given the relatively small membership of the WYSA, the squad was mostly made up of U13 girls who hadn’t played against any other teams besides Pemberton. They won every game in the league except one and gained valuable experience playing against the larger metro teams in Surrey.
“It’s such a fun group,” said Melun, of the young U14 squad. “They’re loud, they’re fun to watch and they have a lot of fun playing on the field. I’m sure that team is going to do well in the next few years.”
The constant challenge in Whistler to produce enough players to form the various teams is not the only hurdle that girls’ soccer has to overcome. The WYSA has no field to train on in the winter and has to rely on small floor space in gyms to keep its players in shape during the season. Teams train their technique and strategy by playing Futsal, a five-a-side variation on indoor soccer without rebound walls.
“We feel the pain when it’s time to go on a big field, it’s a bit of an adjustment,” said Melun. “But the kids in Whistler are pretty athletic, so they adapt pretty quickly.”