Woolwich U17 boys and U16 girls each take top spots at Ancaster soccer tournament
A WEEKEND TRIP TO the Hamilton area proved fruitful for the Woolwich U17 boys’ and U16 girls’ soccer teams, as both captured gold at the Ancaster Heritage Tournament, one of the largest one-weekend outdoor soccer tournaments in Canada.
“This tournament gathers one of the [largest] amounts of teams in the year during the weekend,” said Brandon Lowther, rep chair and technical director with Woolwich Youth Soccer. “That alone makes it a pretty tough competition over the course of that weekend.”
The teams played five games in the tournament, both finishing with a score of 1-0. The U16 girls conceded zero goals, and U17 boys only gave up one goal in the entire tournament, noted U16 girls’ coach Gerard Douglas.
Tak Shibayama is the coach for the U17 boys’ team for the past two years, with five years of overall coaching experience.
“Historically our team in this tournament, we’ve never won it, and we did this year,” said Shibayama. “The other cool thing that happened is that we broke our shootout curse. Whenever a game is tied in these kinds of tournaments, we never go into overtime; we go into shootouts. And when that happens, we usually lose. But for the first time, we were able to defeat that curse.”
Shibayama attributes the team’s success to their many years playing together and their chemistry on the field.
“We train hard and practice, we practice the basics over and over again,” he added. “To be honest, I’m just fortunate to be training a group of very talented players. These boys have been playing together for six or seven years. I just took over the team last year, so this is just my second year coaching with this group of people. I think the fact that they’ve been together for so long; they just have such good chemistry out on the field. They’re 17-year-old boys, and they have other hobbies, another life going on, so we try to keep this team pretty relaxed. So I think it’s mostly the chemistry and the will to play soccer makes them a winning team.”
All of the rep teams practice a minimum of twice a week. Each team chooses to go to different tournaments in varying amounts. Their season has just begun in May, making this a nice way to kick it off.
“I think the one thing we wanted to add to it was that generally speaking, Woolwich Youth Soccer is doing a lot of great stuff,” said Lowther. “We have the hosting of the Ontario Cup, which is a provincial competition for the highest level teams in soccer. We’re hosting the U13 girls’ tournament round in July which is a pretty big deal.”
The boys’ U13 and the girls’ U17 teams will be participating in the Ontario Cup this year.
“The U17 girls’ team are the defending champions of Ontario Cup,” added Lowther. “This year they’re looking to try to get back to the winning round and because the winner at U17 goes to the national championships.”
There was also the Canada soccer festival for house league this past weekend, said Lowther. It took place across Elmira and St. Jacobs.
“We follow the Ontario Soccer Provincial Development Matrix for recreation so there’s a limitation on how much they can play in a day, and what size of fields they use, etcetera,” added Lowther. “And so we follow that as well. At the club, we have claimed our bronze level club excellence from Ontario Soccer this past year. One of the requirements of keeping that bronze medal is following along in the development matrix, and so we do that.”
Anyone interested in playing soccer can do so through the Woolwich Youth Soccer Club.
“We will be opening registration for the fall adult league this week,” said Lowther. “It will be recreational, fun, co-ed, all of the words that everybody wants to hear so hopefully they’ll come and play. Even if you don’t have any experience with soccer, it’s okay. We’ll still have fun.
“We will be starting that league the weekend after the long weekend in September. That one goes through right through the end of October – seven weeks. We skip the Thanksgiving weekend but otherwise, seven weeks is our programming. Sunday afternoons, 11-5, and just go out and have some fun.”
The Woolwich U17 boys’ team took gold in Ancaster. Back row: Logan Cressman (coach), Danny Douglas, Adam Chittick, Ben Hayden , Owen Harnock, CJ Sider, Jack Hale, Peter Holmes, Takuya Sibayama (coach). Front row: Mitchell McNabb, Seth Morrison, Quinn Kuepfer, Owen Fenton, Ryan Parrot, Ian Naisby, Devin Noble, Brett Springer.