Rimbey U18 soccer team loses tourney in shootout

It’s been a challenging season for the Rimbey U18 soccer team, but they opened some eyes on the June 11 weekend.

  • Jun. 22, 2010 10:00 a.m.

By Adam Eisenbarth

It’s been a challenging season for the Rimbey U18 soccer team, but they opened some eyes on the June 11 weekend.

Rimbey finished third in their three-team league that also consists of Stettler and Rocky Mountain House, but they proved they’re a strong team, taking silver in the Midnight Classic in Camrose, a tournament involving a dozen U18 teams.

The team opened up the weekend against Edson and came out strong, taking a 4-1 victory. They continued to cruise on Saturday, as they shutout Vegreville 1-0.

After tying St. Paul in their third game, Rimbey sat in first place in their pool.

“We were second highest of all three pools and that brought us to the gold medal game,” says manager Desiree Vandenhoven.

“We’ve gone for four or five years to the Midnight Classic and we’ve never come out with medals at all. This is the first time we hit the medal round and we ended up in the gold/silver game.”

Rimbey matched up against Drayton Valley in the final and it turned out to be quite a battle. The teams went into a shootout locked in a 1-1 tie. Rimbey lost 2-1 in the shootout but the team was pleased with their silver medal performance.

“The kids played like they’ve never played this season. They played very aggressive man-on-man. It was just really neat to see.”

The season is winding down for the U18 soccer team and looking back, Vandenhoven feels it’s difficult for the team to improve while playing against only two other teams in the league.

“I sometimes wonder, because we constantly play the same two teams and they’ve been more dominant than us the last couple years. When we do play them (there’s the attitude that) ‘Oh we probably won’t win anyway.’”

Vandenhoven believes that seeing the different teams in the tournament contributed to their success. “Here we were facing teams we’ve never played before.”

There is little chance of the league expanding however, with many school programs taking over instead.

“We would like to (have more teams) but it’s a tough age group. Some of the schools, Lacombe for one example, they ended up joining the high school league.”

Teams in the Alberta Soccer Association are not insured to play against high school teams.

Nonetheless, the Rimbey soccer team had a good year with the silver medals highlighting their season.

“It’s an awesome age group, these U18 boys. Sometimes it’s hard because of work but they’re all very committed to the team,” Vandenhoven said.

More than half the team will move beyond the age group after this season.

The Midnight Classic hosted 110 teams from various age groups and played more than 500 games from Friday to Sunday on 11 pitches. Rimbey played one late night game that started at 1:15 a.m.