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Rankin girls take home U15 soccer territorials

Kugluktuk boys win their division
Kugluktuk goaltender Garret Taptuna receives his gold medal. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

The Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik roof just about left the building when the hometown Rankin girls defeated Iqaluit in the gold-medal finals to win the U15 soccer territorials Sunday, Nov. 19.

“I’m in disbelief,” said coach Julie Ell following the win over Iqaluit.

The team had lost to Iqaluit earlier in the tournament, so they regrouped, worked on their mistakes and beat the visitors from the capital the second time.

“The banner is proof that they did what they were told,” said Ell.

She said Iqaluit had a strong goalscorer, so the Rankin girls focused on defending their side.

“They did an amazing job this weekend,” said Ell.

On the boys’ side, the Kugluktuk Grizzlies swept their way to gold, beating Coral Harbour in the finals in dominating fashion – despite having only one sub all weekend.

“I’m just really proud of the boys,” said Kugluktuk coach Lee Olson. “They do all the work all the time. I just coach and show up and help them with what they’re working on. Other than that, it’s just all about them.”

They’ve been playing soccer for a long time, so they’re comfortable in different situations, said Olson, but having one sub was still a challenge.

“That was hard,” he said. “They’re pretty beat up today after three days but they did good. They made me proud.”

Winning came down to teamwork and moving the ball around, he said.

“When you only have one sub, you’ve got to make the ball work for you.”

Kugluktuk coach Lee Olson, right, shakes hands with tournament organizer Kris Okpatauyak. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Referees Dan Popescu and Kathleen Kozakewich gather with tournament organizer Kris Okpatauyak. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Makayla Kaludjak and Peecee Pudlat stop for a photo during a break in the action. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Coral Harbour players rush each other after a huge win on Sunday. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Peecee Pudlat looks skyward after missing a chance. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Makayla Kaludjak erupts, along with the whole building, after scoring a critical goal in the women’s finals from her side of the court. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Kugluktuk Grizzlies captain Nolan-James Demerah poses with the banner after his team defeated Coral Harbour in the finals. Next to him are organizers Kris Okpatauyak and Kandace Graham. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Cooper Anguti Saimaut cheers after scoring a goal for Coral Harbour. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
The Rankin team cheers after winning the U15 girls finals against Iqaluit. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo