Year to remember

London Youth Whitecaps 2002 Boys team

Back row (left to right): Ryan Ojerraly, Armin Bradaric, Jaxon Nolte, Ade Bojali, Dylan Dasilva, Mateja Milidrag, David Cubillos, Elijah Barnes, Mohammad Rafih, Coach Jeff Cambridge Front row: Caleb Roberts, Dilan Davito, Jacob Luis, Justin Olawabi, Abel Tiruneh, Carson Wood, Mitchell Ryzer

The London Youth Whitecaps 2002 Boys team had an unforgettable year in 2017. Along the way, they won an Ontario Cup and earned a spot in the Toyota National Championships in Calgary, AB.

The team began the season by winning the ‘First on the Turf’ tournament in May, beating Kitchener, 3-2, in a hard-fought final to become 2017 Kick-Off Cup Champions. The boys continued to find their stride as the regular season got underway and, even with a few bumps along the way, managed to post a record of 9-1-2 and capture the WOYSL League Championship for the second year in a row. They scored a league-high 46 goals and allowed only 7 against (also a league-best).

July brought the start of the Ontario Cup Tournament. After losing on penalties in 2016, the boys felt that ‘redemption’ was necessary this year. That redemption began by steamrolling their way through a perfect 3-0 preliminary round, followed by an opening 2-1 win in pool play in a great match against the Milton Magic (ranked Top 5 nationally). Their second game, a much-anticipated rematch against the defending National Champion Brampton East Blades, the team that beat them in the Ontario Cup final a year earlier, ended in a 2-2 draw. Against Pickering, the Whitecaps came out flying and cruised to an easy 6-0 win to earn a spot in the quarter-finals.

Playing host to Ottawa, London dominated in the second half, scoring seven times en route to a 9-1 win. Trailing 1-0 in the semi-final match against the Toronto York Jets, London managed to score with only seven minutes left, and then struck again to earn a big 2-1 win and a spot in the final for the second straight year.

Down 1-0 in the Ontario Cup final against the Woodbridge Strikers, the Whitecaps created opportunity after opportunity, and before the end of the first half tallied an equalizer. They continued with their press in the second half, and converted a corner kick five minutes in to take a 2-1 lead. Two insurance goals sealed the deal and delivered the boys the Ontario Cup.

The Whitecaps also earned a spot in the Toyota National Championships in Calgary, AB, winning their group with victories over the entries from PEI (2-1) and Saskatchewan (7-0). The quarter-final match against the host Calgary team was filled with flair and dramatics, and the Whitecaps came away victorious after penalty kicks to move on to the medal rounds.

In the semis, despite controlling much of the play against Team Quebec, the London boys were unable to find the back of the net. Quebec managed to score late in the game on a corner kick, and the Whitecaps couldn’t respond, ultimately falling 1-0. Playing for Bronze against Manitoba, London controlled the majority of play once again, but again came away on the wrong end of another close game to settle for fourth place.

It wasn’t an ideal finish, but it was a year to remember for the U15 Whitecaps, who not only won an Ontario Cup title, but also represented the city of London in fine fashion on both the provincial and national stage.

Submitted by London Youth Whitecaps