THUNDER BAY – Youth will be served.
Sometimes, it even pays off.
Thunder Bay Chill coach switched up his lineup on Sunday afternoon to give some of his younger players a chance to see the pitch in the team’s final friendly tune-up against the Winnipeg Lions, getting an extended look at the likes of Alex Pike and Devan Jorgenson with their United Soccer League 2 regular season opener a mere handful of days away.
Pike opened the scoring in the 15th minutes and Jorgenson wrapped up Thunder Bay offensive onslaught in the 84th, helping the Chill to a 5-2 win.
It was the first goal for each player, both of whom has grown up in the Chill organization. Both said it was a pretty special moment watching the ball move the mesh.
“It was great in front of the home crowd,” said Pike, a defender in his second full season with the Chill’s USL 2 club.
“I grew up playing for the (organization) so to finally score for the first team, it’s a good feeling. To get the lead early, it also really helped us maintain our composure and the possession of the ball and let us play how we wanted to.”
Jorgenson, the son of former Thunder Bay Border Cats owner Brad Jorgenson, said it was a dream come true to put the ball in the net.
“Growing up with the team, it definitely felt good being on the USL team and to come out here and score a goal for us,” the 22-year-old Jorgenson said.
Scoring goals is a great way to get noticed by the coaching staff, who will be doling out playing time when the Chill open next weekend on the road against FC Winnipeg.
“Growing up with the younger team, you want to come up and show that you deserve to be here. Having the win today proves that some guys who come up from the Academy team can perform for us,” Jorgenson said.
Even with a mixture of likely reserves and starters in the lineup Sunday at Chapples Park, the Chill dominated most of the action in the opening half, much like they did on Friday night.
The results were much the same, at least until the final five minutes, when the Lions twice managed to put the ball past keeper Alejandro Chavarria.
Andrea De Vincenzi doubled the lead in the 28th minute, an advantage they’d take into the second half, but not before the Lions had their best opportunity of the opening 45 minutes when Selfeddine Dhaoul’s free kick from just outside the box was blocked by a wall of Chill players, the chance coming in the 31st.
Osita Obiekwe was stopped on a breakaway in the 51st minute, but teammate Sebastian Bocaz Canales pounced on the rebound and buried behind Lions keeper Sean Golden.
He added his second of the afternoon in the 73rd, faking a pass before lofting it home for a 4-0 lead. The Chill matched their 5-0 lead of a night earlier in the 84th, Jorgenson chipping it home, making up for a missed opportunity 10 minutes earlier.
Braden Silva and Caelan Budhoo spoiled Cavarria’s shutout bid, socring in the 87th and 89th minutes respectively, a sloppy ending that did not please Chill coach Gio Petraglia.
“What happened in the last 10 minutes cannot happen again. It’s something we have to fix right away because during the league we’re not going to have much time and we cannot go in with this attitude,” Petraglia said.
“Overall it was good, but it was kind of a bittersweet feeling.”