Members of the Wolfpack GU16 team have bronze medals dangling from their necks from the provincial Tier II championship hosted in Calgary in March.

After finishing second in their pool, the Wolfpack beat Edmonton, 4-1, in a tough bronze medal match.

This Wolfpack squad is a storied team that has been together for years in Cochrane Minor Soccer and this medal is the latest in a long list of accomplishments.

Long-time coach John Rovere says the score doesn't reflect how close the game was and says the matchups throughout the tournament were close.

"We deserved to win it, we played a really solid game, but I'd say the ball possession was 55-45 in our favour," says Rovere. "It's not like we had the ball the whole game, they were good, too; we just buried more of our chances than they did."

The Cochrane team has a varied group of players of tier I to tier IV calibre and they are often matched up against larger clubs with defined tier II players, but the Wolfpack rises to the occasion.

"Sometimes you're going to struggle a little bit, but the way we have our team set up and where we have our kids playing keeps games close for us and then we have a couple of scorers who can bury a late goal and win it."

He says solid goaltending is also essential.

"You can't compete at level one or two without a solid goalkeeper so we have that. That keeps us in every game, knowing you have a girl that can make all the saves."

The core of this Wolfpack team has played together since U10 and along the way has earned many honours. In a combination of indoor and outdoor provincial play, they have now won one gold, one silver and two bronze medals. They've also won an arms length of tournaments and two of those wins came two years straight in Cranbrook, B.C. on Father's Day, making them both quite memorable.

"In none of these tournaments did we just walked over teams. We didn't do that at all, they were close fun games that we managed to pull out."

Some of the higher calibre players are given the opportunity to compete for other higher tiered teams seeking players for tournaments in Calgary, Saskatoon, Kamloops and Vancouver when it doesn't conflict with the Wolfpack schedule.

Now having coached team now for four years he says it's been a great experience.

"We've had a solid core of players and coaches that have stuck with the program a long time and the parent support is always great. They are always there, they're not yelling at the refs and are very supportive and encouraging. We have a good club and I look forward to every season."

The outdoor season will be delayed until early May due to heavy snowfall and the team has been finding indoor facilities where possible in the meantime. When it does start, the team will be divided into U15 and U17 teams to matchup with new age categories established by the Calgary Minor Soccer Association. Some players have other sports commitments in the winter so they typically have several players returning to the team for the spring/summer league.

"It's going to be tough, it's going to be a challenge," says Rovere.

Alberta Showcase Tournament

In other minor soccer news, three Cochrane 2006 athletes attended a recent Alberta Soccer Association showcase tournament in Edmonton.

Alexander Johnson, Hunter Carr and Reid Vanderwater, all from Cochrane, participated in the recent Mini Stars Showcase in Edmonton.

Alexander Johnson, Hunter Carr and Reid Vanderwater all participated in the Mini Stars Showcase that wrapped up another successful winter program. It welcomed over 150 players from across the province to the Garisson Military and Fitness Centre. The Mini Stars program, which boasts that “mistakes are part of our success” is meant for players aged 9-12 and focuses on skill development outside of a traditional team environment.

The players were randomly matched up to play exhibition matches.

Many players who have participated in the Mini Stars program over the past five years have eventually gone on to play for Alberta Soccer’s Provincial Team Program and beyond.