Woolwich and Wellesley were well represented at the U14 Premier Indoor Soccer League championship this month as the Waterloo United U14A boys brought home gold with the help of four players from the townships.Evan Rees, Quinton Jackson, Quinn Kuepfer, and Cameron Anderson are part of the 18-member team which defeated the Brampton Blast 2-1 – quite the accomplishment considering Brampton won the Ontario Cup last year.
The boys will now play outdoor soccer for the summer, hoping to bring home the Ontario Cup themselves. The team went undefeated all season and hopes to continue that success in the outdoor league.
Each of them has been playing for rep teams since the age of nine, meaning every year they have to try out to earn their spot. Some of them have been playing together for just a couple years, while others have been on the same team as one other for five.
“There are lots of people there, like over 100 come to tryout every year,” Jackson said.
The team’s much improved since last year when they managed to win some games, but never a tournament, or much less the championship.
“If we win the outdoor league we might move up to L1,” Rees said. “Right now we’re playing L3 and if we come in top two then the top two teams move up to L1.”
Anderson attributes much of their success to consistency. Everyone’s committed to the team, practicing twice a week, and they come into games with a winning attitude.
“It’s a way higher level than you could play at house league or just at your school,” Anderson said. “And because of the talent we’ve got and the things we’ve done in the past, it’s just way more competitive and a lot more fun.”
The boys have certainly improved since they first started in the league. Anderson recalls their first game against Brampton where they lost 10-1. Slowly each year, they’ve crept up to their level, preparing to take the cup from them this season.
“We start with the Kick-Off Cup,” Anderson said. “It’s just a little tournament to play all the teams in your league and that’s also something we’re aiming to win. You win a trophy for that.”
Despite hockey being the predominant sport in Elmira, the boys have their own reasons for committing to the most played sport on the globe, which is, yes, soccer.
“I’d say it’s way more intense,” Anderson said. “Anything can happen. Hockey’s more a couple teams can win it most of the time, but here it’s always that guessing game of who’s going to win. You never really know.”
Jackson added, “It’s different. Most people like hockey, so it’s just something different.”
EDSS didn’t even have a boys soccer team this year, something these avid soccer players hope to see change. They say their biggest challenge will be winning the Ontario Cup this year. But considering they beat last year’s champions in the indoor league, it’s not too far out of reach.
“We have a good chance this year,” Kuepfer said.
But it will still be tough once they get into playoff time competing against teams from places like Sarnia and Stratford.
“[Last year] we played the winner in the quarter finals and lost so the competition starts really early,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t matter where you are in the tournament. It starts to get difficult.”
While they’re still a bit young to be thinking about college, they note competing at a high level will make them more likely to get noticed and hopefully earn a scholarship to study and play their favorite sport.
“Before Waterloo wasn’t known as one of the best teams in Ontario but we built our reputation up every year,” Jackson said.