Who says Rainy River District only knows hockey?
The Emo boys’ under-12 soccer team sent its first-ever contingent to the East. St. Paul Summer Soccer Classic in Winnipeg over the weekend and returned with plenty of hardware after winning the ‘B’-side crown.
“The boys all came home with trophies and we called the big [team trophy] our FIFA Cup,” Lori Shortreed laughed.
“It was a whole new experience for the players and for the coach,” she added.
“Just to play competitive soccer is something fairly new around here, but I think everybody is pleased with how things went.”
Placed in Tier II of the under-12 division, the squad went 0-2-2 during the round-robin portion before reeling off back-to-back wins in the ‘B’ flight that propelled them to the title.
They beat Dryden Arsenal 4-3 in penalty kicks in the ‘B’ final after getting goals from Spencer Shortreed, Robin Vien, and Maxwell Williams in regulation time.
Jacob Bolzan, who joined the team from the Fort Frances program for this tournament, earned the game’s MVP award as chosen by the opposing team.
Emo advanced to the ‘B’ final after a 6-2 win over the BUS Goldhawks (Winnipeg) in the semi-finals.
Tyler Hamm and Shortreed scored two goals apiece while Terrell Hyatt and Brandon Pelepetz added singles.
Shortreed earned the team MVP award.
The team opened round-robin play Friday against Winnipeg’s Tyndall Park and battled to a 2-2 tie.
Shortreed scored the opening goal before Tyndall Park responded with two to take the lead, but Vien knotted the score later to salvage the tie.
Hyatt earned the MVP nod.
The team then returned to the pitch for three games on Saturday, beginning with a morning match-up against the eventual champion Valour squad out of Winnipeg.
The boys were blanked 5-0 in that one.
“They [Valour] were a very good team,” Lori Shortreed remarked. “These boys from Winnipeg had been playing together for a number of years and that was very apparent.
“But the other parents were impressed by our play and that our guys got shots on them,” she added.
Isaac Firth earned the MVP award for his play between the pipes in the loss.
“Since the end of June, our boys have just been all taking turns in net, had no set keeper,” Shortreed noted.
“It makes it a little bit difficult when you don’t have one keeper set in that position every game, but Isaac played really well that game.”
Emo continued play that afternoon versus the Brandon United Royals and ended up on the losing end of a tough 2-1 decision.
“The boys had lots of [scoring] opportunities and it could’ve went either way, but sometimes you just don’t get the timely bounces,” Shortreed reasoned.
Jeremy Shypit netted the lone goal and also claimed the game MVP award.
The Emo squad then battled tooth-and-nail to a 1-1 tie against Dryden to close out the round-robin.
Firth scored the team’s goal while Williams garnered the MVP honours.
The tournament featured divisions ranging from under-seven to under-16 age categories, with teams from all over taking part.
“It was a good experience for the boys,” Shortreed said. “Most of these boys play hockey, so they are going to be gearing up for that now, but it’s nice to have soccer.
“It keeps them active, and they are doing a lot of running [during the summer],” she stressed. “They won’t have been the ones playing computer games all summer, they kept busy.
“Hopefully next year we can get a group of boys and go again as an under-13 team.”
Meanwhile, as first reported in last week’s Times, three girls and five boys from the local Fort Frances under-12 teams have been invited to join the regional development program.
Sierra Cousineau, Angel McCormack, and Claire Hyatt have been asked to confirm their attendance in phase one of the program while Ian Jodoin, Cole Tymkin, Adam Stromberg, Jacob Bolzan, and Andrew Hanson were invited on the boys’ side.
After completing phase one of the program, each player then will be evaluated and potentially invited to move on to phase two.
Ontario has been divided into seven regions geographically, with Fort Frances being in Region 7 (which covers the western edge of the province east to Thunder Bay).
Prospective players will go to Thunder Bay one weekend each month to take part in four training sessions under the watchful eyes of regional coach Dave Colistro.