The board of directors for youth soccer could not ask for better weather or more exciting soccer for their season finale wind-up held last Saturday at the St. Francis Sportsfield.
With the sun shining down, there were some last minute dramatics in the division five playoffs.
In the semi-final battle between the Red and Green teams, it went through double overtime before green finally took it in penalty kicks to move onto the finals.
Then in the consolation final, Red was once again on the losing end of an overtime game, falling to the Orange Team 5-4 in the extra frame.
However in the end, it was Team Green that was left standing atop division five, taking a hard fought 3-2 victory over second-place Blue Team.
“It was great,” said Green coach, Cam Moorhouse, of his team’s performance. “It was hot in the afternoon, everyone was tired, and they played just discipline enough to win.
“We didn’t come into the finals as the favourite by any means, but we had a bit more kids to sub today and it took a shoot-out to win over the red team. It couldn’t have been any closer,” he continued.
“The first game was way more intense then the second game,” said Gavin Moorhouse, player for the green team. “That was intense cause everyone was running all over the field and our team was trying hard and it was great.”
When the whistle finally rang out at the end of the night, the exhausted Gavin joked the first thought going through his head was he needed to get a drink of water.
“I’m just happy we won, there is no other way to describe it,” he continued.
In the division four final, France took a 4-1 decision over Germany while Spain shut out Italy 3-0.
“When the weather cooperates and you have a good group of volunteers, everything runs smoothly,” said Sarah Gould, president of the soccer association.
“I think the kids were happy with how the games turned out cause they got the competitive edge and that’s kind of what the tournament is all about,” she continued.
Volunteers ran a BBQ throughout the day, offering hot dogs, chips, bottled water and freezies.
Each player received a dog tag to commemorate their season with the top two teams in division five earning medals for their efforts.
The division five championship trophy wasn’t the only hardware that was handed out to Gavin as he was also awarded the third-annual Bryce Devoe Memorial Award.
“I worked hard to get it,” said Gavin. “I would have been happy if anyone else got it.
“I just come out here to play and have a good time.”
The award is handed out annually to a division five player who best exemplifies the traits of Devoe like dedication, teamwork and leadership.
Devoe passed away in 2007 after being struck by lightning on the St. Francis Sportsfield. He was 13.
“I never got a chance to meet [Bryce] but I saw him a couple of times,” said Gavin. “But it means a lot to be able to remember him so nothing like it happens ever again.”
“It was a real honour,” said Gavin’s dad, Cam. “He’s a good guy, he’s a really good soccer player, works very hard, respects the game and the other kids.”
Each team is allowed to nominate two players for the award with the board of directors deciding who best represents the award.
“As the president, I spend a lot of time at the fields and go around to the games and watch different things,” said Gould. “One of the things that stood out about Gavin is that in our league where we aren’t overly competitive, he is one of the better players but still has a great attitude.
“Sometimes what we see is the greater players that show the poor attitude cause they have these high expectations of the other players. One thing that stood out about Gavin to all of us is that he is always someone that encourages the other players on the field and has a great attitude,” she continued.
“The thing about Bryce that really stood out to the coaches was that no matter what the situation, he always gave the his all. He loved the game enough to love playing, whether he was down or winning, he still encouraged his team, and Gavin has those qualities.
“It didn’t matter to Bryce if he was the best player in the game or the worst player, it was about getting out there and loving soccer. If you have ever seen Gavin play, that is one of the things you notice right away, he plays with passion and he is after every ball and plays hard.”
“After receiving the nominations, we discuss it as a board and with the people at the games who actually see what happens out there,” she continued.
“It would be anything to say ‘Oh yeah, he’s a great player.’ That’s not what the award is about so we have people who apart of our board and refs that look at over the last year, who has stood out as being someone all about the game and will give it their all and get out there and give his best no matter what.”
With the level of stiff competition in the top division, Gould respects the idea of an award that goes out to a person who is not always the best player on the pitch.
“We find that it does get a little more competitive in division four and five so it’s nice to have an award that honours Bryce, who represents what our league is all about, which is dedication to the game, being a part of a team and learning about the game,” she noted.
“In a nutshell, it means a lot to be able to continue something in Bryce’s name cause it was a tragedy that we never could have anticipated happening, that looking back at it, there was nothing we could have done to handle the situation any differently, for lack of a better way to say it,” she continued.
Three years after the tragic loss, the incident did bring in a level of change.
“Afterwards, as a board, we looked at how the organization is ran with everything in regards to the safety of our players, how we could better that situation,” Gould said.
“Even the situation where parents don’t supervise their children, you could imagine that parents think it’s okay to drop off a five year old at soccer and pick them up an hour later when that shouldn’t be the case.”
One anonymous soccer supporter donated a lighting detector, which Gould said is always on, even if it is a bright blue sky outside.
As for the season, Gould noticed mixed results of delaying the start of the season a week later then usual.
“We always run into debate about when our season should start and when it would end, and typically for the last five or so years, we have ended the season before school ended which means our season starts at the end of April,” she said.
“It’s amazing how quick the season goes. We did put out a survey this year and we were looking at the results and considering whether we might lengthen the season for next year, either 10 or 12 weeks instead of eight weeks.
“One of the options was to run a longer season but only once a week.
“I went through them and I haven’t looked at all the comments and all the extra stuff that comes with the survey but it is pretty much 50-50, which is of course how it would be when I do a survey,” she joked.
“We are going to need to look at the comments closely and see why the parents are choosing one way or another.”
Wendy Kellar was the coach of Blue Team and her team saw the effects of the start date change.
For the tournament, her team played without any subs but she is not against starting a week later.
“They tried something different, unfortunately it didn’t work for us but whose to say if it was kept the same way, it would have been a disadvantage too,” she said.
“It’s hard to say what kids and families have planned.
“I like the idea simply for the fact that it is warmer out,” she joked.
“If they changed it back next year, it wouldn’t bother me. Mostly it was different obligations,” ranging from family vacations, grandmas birthday and drivers training.
“Even if they changed it back to the original start date, it may not have made a major difference.”
But now, last weekend marked the end of another season of youth soccer in Fort Frances.