Three Battlefords United FC teams shined at the Hollandia Cup in Saskatoon this past weekend, with two winning gold and one team falling just short in the gold-medal game.
The U-12 boys went 4-0 on their way to gold in division three, the U-16 boys won three games on their way to gold also in division three, and the U-18 boys fell 3-2 in a shootout to Hollandia Munson in the finals while competing in the only U-20 division.
"Our U-18 [team] is very strong and very skilled both indiviudally and as a team," said U-18 co-coach Kat Huxley. "We played two U-20 teams and played very, very well.
"A lot of our players have been playing together their whole lives. I feel in the summertime [we are] a very soccer-oriented community when it comes to the Battlefords and the First Nations reserves around the community. And a lot of these boys on this U-18 have been training together since October of last year."
The U-18 team will continue playing in U-20 divisions in next weekend's Harder Avalon Classic and at the Eastside COPA on June 16, both of which take place in Saskatoon. The club is playing up an age group because Huxley wants them as prepared as possible for the outdoor youth provincials on Canada Day weekend in Swift Current.
"We have some high expectations [for] provincials, coming out definitely in the top two," Huxley said. "This past winter, my expectation was very much the same and we ended up losing in the semifinal. I feel like the pieces of the puzzle that we have accumulated for the outdoor team, the few boys we added, are what we need to get to the next level, to the finals."
There's also the possibility that the U-18 team will continue training after provincials are over so they can compete in the Calgary Cup during the August long weekend.
"It's kind of a conversation we've been floating around and bumping off of everyone," Huxley said. "As long as they're all still committed to being able to play that far into the summer, then we're going to attend the Calgary Cup."
The U-16 will also use the upcoming Harder Avalon Classic in Saskatoon as a better measuring stick for provincials, because the Hollandia Cup is a smaller tournament with not as many competitive teams.
But co-coach Kelly Villeneuve said going undefeated this past weekend was clearly still a good sign of things to come.
"Overall the kids did really well for only having one pre-season warmup game," Villeneuve said of the U-16 team. "Next weekend in the Avalon Classic, we already saw the schedule, and there are some teams from P.A. and Saskatoon that we're expecting to be there... so that will be more of an accurate measure for sure."
The U-16's also have a small mini-tournament in Kindersley on June 17 and 18.
After the success all the Battlefords United FC teams saw this weekend, things are certainly looking up.
"With Levi Lightfoot and myself coaching the U-16 [team] and the other coaches as well with those other teams, we'll have pretty much another month to work with these kids," Villeneuve said. "They're quick learners and so far we're off to a good start and we're really happy about that."
Both the U-16 and U-12 teams were repeat champions at the Hollandia Cup.
Although Huxley isn't the coach of the U-12 team, she said they've shown great potential as well.
"They're really looking strong," she said. "If they stay together, they're going to be strong in the future as they move up the age groups. So I'm very excited about the U-12 boys as well."
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