Taiga Iida is learning to grow with the Mountain United FC U16 team.
In his first season with the club, which is the result of a partnership between the Burnaby District Youth Soccer Association and the North Shore Youth Soccer Association, Iida helped it secure a second-place finish in the B.C. Soccer Premier League.
After Mountain United posted a 5-3-6 record in regular-season play, the team posted a pair of shutout wins in the playoffs en route to the Premier Cup final, where it was edged 1-0 by the Vancouver Island Wave.
Iida said there were some challenges associated with jumping a level and working his way onto a new club, but he's embraced them head-on.
"Overall, I think I did all right," he said. "I think I'll start to play better as I get to be more confident with the new team."
As much as adapting to some of the on-field play required adjustments, Iida added that he needed to take a little time to develop to the team culture. However, both have ended up being pretty good fits.
"At the start of the season, I wasn't playing much and didn't have as many friends on the team, but now everyone's my friend and I'm starting to get more playing time," he said. "As I go on, I should be getting to be a better soccer player."
Iida is happy with his all-around development since joining Mountain United before the spring season, adding that he's feeling more confident in his playing ability as well.
"I don't think there's a particular skill I've gotten better at, but I've gotten better overall," he said.
Head coach Dan Fairhurst noted Iida has made steady gains in his time on the roster, explaining he's been impressed with his enthusiasm during practice.
"He's developing well," Fairhurst said. "He's got a fairly good work rate during games and training."
Fairhurst feels Iida's fundamentals are strong, which makes him good to instruct, though he also shows some creativity on the pitch as well.
"He's a good technical player. He's good with both feet and he's got the ability to beat players, which is good to have," he said.
Overall, Fairhurst noted Mountain United is a hungry squad, having been to the last two finals without being able to pull out the win despite strong showings in the championship matches.
"They work hard in training and haven't won it before, so they've got a lot of desire to go win it," he said. "It's a shame they can't win one, but the football's been good, to be fair."
Other Whistler soccer stars helped their teams at provincials this past weekend. Three players with the West Vancouver Soccer Club (WVSC) U13 team, forward Reimi Shishido, midfielder Elly Hoskin and goalie Genoa Van Oostward, guided their club to gold in the A Cup. As well, Hannah McKenzie was part of the WVSC U15 girls team to second in the A Cup.