Spectacular defense and open communication on the field has earned the Woolwich Youth Soccer Club’s U15 team a top spot at a recent tournament in Ottawa.
After beating out four other teams, the Woolwich Wolf Pack emerged as champions at the Ottawa Gloucester Invitational Soccer Tournament that ran July 8-10,
The team allowed only two goals in the tournament while scoring a whopping 16 against teams from across the province.
The one team that managed to get the ball past the Woolwich keeper, St. Eustace from Montreal, fell to the Wildcats in the final game.
“We scored a goal 30 seconds into that game, and that was the goal that lasted 60 minutes and won it all for us,” said head coach Steve Sider, adding that throughout the tournament, the team was on top of their game. “The defense played extremely well, some players who hadn’t scored in league play got some goals in the tournament, our key guys who score a lot of goals, put them in the back of the net for us. It all worked out.”
Leading up to the Ottawa tournament, the team had been practicing specific skills, setting them apart from the other teams on the field.
“We really try to play much more of a passing game. They are at the age – they are 15 years old – where you move from what we call the dump-and-chase game, where you force the ball into a corner and chase it, to more of a technical game with lots of passing. They have really been working on that, really since January. That is when we start practicing,” he said. “A number of folks who were at the tournament, told me they thought our team was by far the best technical team, especially from a passing perspective.”
The boys also have been working on building relationships between teammates – a skill that Sider says puts them ahead of the pack. Using a goal-oriented coaching strategy, Sider and his fellow coaching staff encouraged the players to also reach some personal bests.
“A lot of the boys go to high school together here in Elmira, but to be able to see them working together, trusting each other was great,” he said. “To build on that success, we asked them all to think of a goal that they individually would want to accomplish in the tournament. Then we are going to meet with them, just to say to them, ‘what were your goals and did you meet that goal?’ We were just playing together as a complete unit.”
Without speaking for the boys on the team, Sider says he could tell they were “over the moon.”
“They were so excited. They wanted to win last year, too, so this was a big deal for them. They were all so excited,” he said. “There was a big celebration and they work hard for it. They played the Montreal team just a couple of hours earlier in the round robin, tied it up 2-2. It was against a very strong team, and then they won.”
The team will be continuing their regular season play this week with a game against Guelph, but Sider says they will be looking ahead to their turn to play host to Ontario soccer teams on Aug. 5-7.
“There are about 95 teams that come out, so about 1,500 players,” he said. “That is the next tournament for us.”