by Lieutenant Derek Reid
3rd Canadian Division Public Affairs
With a roster featuring many new names and facing a challengingly compressed schedule, the men’s team from Edmonton went back to back at the CAF National Soccer Championship at CFB Borden from September 18-21.
The Garrison Warriors edged out Trenton in the championship match with a gruelling1-0 win that required extra time to be decided. Endurance turned out to be the deciding factor given this year’s tournament format with the semi-finals and final played on the same day – Edmonton also needed extra time to defeat Esquimalt earlier that morning.
“I think it boiled down to the fitness of our troops from Edmonton,” said Coach Keven Phinney, who claimed his fifth national title with the win. “We had a lot of turnover on the roster from last year and even from regionals, but we were able to fill those gaps with strong athletes thanks to some incredible support from the units.”
Edmonton once again dominated the regional tournament in August, but lost several teammates to taskings, injuries, as well as four core members who would be representing Canada at the World Military Games in South Korea. Supplemented by pickups from Winnipeg, Wainwright, and Shilo, as well as a strong contingent from the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the Prairie region boasted a roster full of grit and determination.
The win was especially poignant for Coach Phinney, who faced hardship in his family life in the past year as his son Tyler nearly died from a spinal infection. Emergency surgery saved his life, but Tyler continues to battle daily to regain control of his legs and is determined to walk again. Gathering the troops before the championship game, Coach Phinney told the team Tyler’s story and reminded them, “Whenever your legs feel tired, think of the challenge Tyler is facing.” Inspired by his determination, the team persevered and was able to dedicate the national title to Tyler via speakerphone right after the match.
The Garrison Warriors showed incredible toughness and resiliency in playing six games in three days, finishing strong and keeping the title in Edmonton. The team will be looking to represent the region again next year in order to complete the three-peat.