BY GEORGE MARATOS

Jake Hanson displays a soft smile as he speaks about the Yukon side he is taking to Wasilla, Alaska next month for the Alaska State Championships.

The soft-spoken Hanson is coordinating the early August soccer trip and he says the response so far from players has given him plenty of reason to grin.

“Already there’s 14 guys confirmed to the roster so that leaves us with three subs,” explains Hanson. “Last year we ended up playing with just one sub and that really hurt us so it’s great news having so many guys interested.”

The Yukon Selects are certainly no strangers to the Alaska State Championships having participated in the tournament four times over the past decade including the last three years in a row.

The “Selects” turned some heads their first year at tournament in 1999 winning the Championship in spite of having a relatively young squad.

In 2006, the team came one goal short of winning the championship a second time dropping the final 3-2, after dominating the round-robin portion of the tournament.

In fact, last year marked the only time the “Selects” did not make it the championship game.

Hanson says despite not getting the wins he was pleased with the play of the team especially considering the short bench.

“It was the most consistent I think I’ve seen the team play,” said Hanson. “We didn’t get the end results but it’s tough when you only have one sub.”

Hanson says the roster he has assembled for this year’s championship run is quite varied with players ranging in age from 16 to 52.

Two of those players already confirmed to take part are brothers Boris and Ammon Hoefs, who both play for the University of Alberta.

Hanson, no slouch on the field himself, having played high-level college soccer in the United States and captaining the Yukon Selects at several National Championships, is also planning to lace up the cleats.

Hanson adds there has even been interest from Whitehorse resident Paul Fraughton who spent last year playing for Dalhousie University and is currently playing on the east coast.

“If we can get Paul on the roster that’s a huge asset so we’re doing everything we can to get him here,” said Hanson. “We even have three goalies interested in making the trip so to have that depth at that position is great.”

Hanson says he’s optimistic about the chances the Yukon has of bringing the trophy back across the border and, with a deep roster, he feels that only bodes well for the team’s success.

“It’s all coming together really nicely so I’m very excited to see the team compete.”

The Alaska State Championships kick of August 1 in Wasilla, Alaska.

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