MacGregor takes tourney title 0
Diane Derksen, Submitted photo... MacGregor United celebrates its gold-medal win at the Children s Hospital Tournament in Winnipeg on June 10. Back row: Corey May, Zach Wall, Brendon Wieler, Noah Wieler, Campbell Lloyd, Conner Derksen, Colson Wiebe, Tyson Murray, Braeden Pritchard, Byron Wiebe. Front row: Dawson Sawatzky, Reese Anderson, Liam Hodges, Evan Wiebe, Cole Leckie, Loren Friesen. Missing from photo: Keith Lloyd (coach) and Trent Boschman.
The MacGregor United U18 soccer team made it all the way to the Children's Hospital Tournament's gold-medal game in 2011, only to fall a goal short.
United ensured it didn't see a similar fate this time around, winning each of its games en route to taking the top spot in its division, capturing the 2012 title on June 10.
"It was nice to be back in the finals again, and it was nice to come away with the trophy and the medals this time," said head coach Corey May.
In the opener, MacGregor played Moosomin, opening up a 2-0 and holding on to win 2-1 when the opponents got a late marker.
"They piled some good pressure on us for the last little while, but we held them off," said May.
United then played Norwood, surviving first-half pressure by their Winnipeg counterparts to finish the first half scoreless. MacGregor scored early in the second half to help turn the tide and help notch a 2-0 win.
In their third game, MacGregor downed East St. Paul in a dominant fashion, though the score was only 2-0.
"We did dominate that game a little more," said May. "It wasn't quite as intense near the end. We had them down."
In the final, MacGregor again met up with Moosomin, winning another 2-1 contest. Each team scored on a first-half penalty kick to set up some United heroics to eke out the win.
All but a handful of players on the team were returnees from last year's club. May said it wasn't necessarily redemption on their minds going into the championship game for the second year in a row.
MacGregor played Brandon in the 2011 final, with that meeting eventually being the only game of four MacGregor lost to its rivals to the west that year.
"We were hoping Brandon was going to be in the tournament because we wanted another crack at them," said May. "As far as the tournament goes, the boys wanted to win because our mindset going into a tournament or going into a game is we're going in to win."
May said the team, which is mostly made up of the MacGregor Collegiate Institute high school team, is a force to be reckoned with at all positions.
"We are very strong the entire way through our lineup," said May.
"As a coach, I normally like to build my teams defence-first. I'd rather battle out a 2-1 game than a 7-6 kind of a game.
"Our defence were absolutely phenomenal all weekend. They totally controlled the play, they cut down lots of chances. Our goaltender played really well, but probably had less shots than he should have had just because our defence played so well."
However, all players bought into the system from attackers back to defenders.
The commitment helped the club allow just two tallies all tournament.
"Our midfielders are also really good two-way players, so they're always back to help the defence out," said May. "They're running their guts out all the time to make sure that they're there on both ends of the field, and that is really important, too."
May also credited the team's play up front, noting a Grade 9 striker stepped up with the team's top player at that position out of the lineup after surgery.