Skeena Taxi drew first blood but Safeway claimed victory in Prince Rupert Youth Soccer Under-19 action on Thursday.
Skeena Taxi dominated the opening minutes and much of the first half with Tyler Matalone and Katerina Samaras providing the bulk of the offence for the black-clad team, but the half ended 1-1. Matalone opened the scoring off a nice feed from fellow Skeena Taxi teammate and keeper Sukhraj Sekhon and David Smith replied for Safeway.
In the second half, after Matalone replaced Sekhon in net for Skeena Taxi, Safeway found their legs. The team, led by coach Mike Cavin, scored two more goals in the second, with the insurance tally coming late in the game to seal the contest for Safeway.
Safeway midfielder Norma Appollos did yeoman’s work along left-field and in centre, supporting her defence and making sure the ball was moved quickly to her attackers.
“We do have strong players but we don’t have one dominant player like every other team,” said Appollos after the match.
“Last year it was different because we won the whole thing but we had a lot of star players, like we had Bryce [Meers] and Sukhraj and it was kind of uneven. It’s a lot different playing with this team because we’re really defensive whereas last year, we had both. We had defence and offence.”
Meers had a couple quality chances for Skeena Taxi, but Safeway goalkeeper Ciaran Dudley was exceptional throughout the game to limit Skeena Taxi to one goal.
Dudley also stopped a breakaway toward the end of the game when Safeway fumbled a free kick and Skeena Taxi broke out on the counter-attack only to have Dudley get a glove on the shot.
“I think our team is really good at passing. We have the passing now, we just have to finish it. When you have a star on your team, they’ll [more often than not] take the shot, whereas our team might pass first. So [it’s] all about getting that confidence to shoot,” said Appollos, who noted her opposition’s tendencies and exploited their weaknesses, driving Skeena’s strikers to their bad sides so they couldn’t shoot with their good foot.
“I’m more defensive, I just feel like I have to come back and help my team. I never play forward,” said the midfielder.
Safeway looks to continue winning against Ridley Terminals Thursday. Skeena Taxi plays NSK Contracting.