CORNER BROOK Ryan Dawe would have loved to have a gold medal dangling around his neck, but he will take silver knowing he has grown from the experience.
The 16-year-old heading to Level 2 at Corner Brook Regional High in September was a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Under-16 male soccer team that earned silver at the Atlantic Under-16 Soccer Championships in Moncton, N.B. last weekend. Corner Brook natives Alex Hennessey and Zack Taylor also suited up for the provincial squad against the top players in Atlantic Canada in the Under-16 age group.
Dawe was disappointed his team lost to Nova Scotia 2-1 in the final after battling the pre-tourney favourites to a 1-1 stalemate in their first game of the round-robin, which saw Dawe and company finish with a 2-0-1 record.
However, he feels the team played well given the poor weather conditions they played in and with a break or two could have captured gold.
All that behind him now, Dawe looks at the big picture in realizing he came away from the event with a better understanding of where his game sits at this point in his development.
“I thought I played good, but I know I need to work on my fitness a lot if I want to keep up with players at that level,” said Dawe, who scored a goal in his team’s 4-1 round-robin triumph over Prince Edward Island.
The tournament was played in heavy rain and it affected the quality of play, according to Dawe, but he knows now that really good players have an uncanny ability to adapt to any circumstances in a game.
“You got to get used to it because it’s not always going to be a good day to play soccer,” he said.
Dawe is proud of the way the team performed, especially against Nova Scotia, a team he feels could have been beaten with a break or two.
He also enjoyed the venture and made the most of it when he wasn’t kicking around the soccer ball.
“It was a really good experience. You got to meet new people and you got to learn new stuff with the coach,” he said.
Hennessey, meanwhile, has been kicking a soccer ball around since he was five years old.
He was pleased to see all hands enter the tournament with a positive attitude knowing full well Nova Scotia would be a strong opponent with a lot of soccer folks pegging them to win the tournament.
“I think they just had a bit of edge on us and they had a lot of possession in the game,” he said. “Spain just won the Euro and they always have the most possession so ...”
Looking at his personal performance, Hennessey was pretty content with how he played even though he knows there is room for improvement in areas of his game.
Taylor was unable to be reached as of press time.