United under-14 girls off to nationals after capturing provincial championship
SUMMERSIDE – It was mission accomplished for the Summerside United on Monday night.
© Submitted photo
The Summerside United pose for a team photo after edging West Prince 2-1 in the championship game of the P.E.I. Subway Under-14 Girls Soccer League (Premier Division) at UPEI on Monday night.
The United scored two unanswered goals to edge West Prince 2-1 in the championship game of the P.E.I. Subway Under-14 Girls Soccer League (Premier Division) at UPEI. The win guaranteed the United P.E.I.’s berth at the Canadian under-14 championships in Lethbridge, Alta., from Oct. 9 to 14. The Eastern Eagles will be P.E.I.’s boys’ representative in Lethbridge.
“We set a long-term goal at the start of the year that we want to get to nationals,” said first-year United head coach Sara McKenna in an interview with the Journal Pioneer on Tuesday morning. “Last night (Monday), with all their hard work, practising and workouts, they came together and achieved the goal.”
The United finished the regular season atop the league standings, thus earning a first-round bye. Summerside advanced to the winner-take-all final with a 3-0 win over Winsloe/Charlottetown on Thursday night, setting up the showdown with West Prince that McKenna described as an “excellent game.”
After a scoreless first half, West Prince took a 1-0 lead on a goal in the 57th minute by Rickilee MacLeod. Taylor Gillis answered back with a pair of goals for the United. Gillis tied the game in the 63rd minute, and then netted the winning goal with two minutes remaining in regulation time.
“We had the wind in the first half,” explained McKenna. “The game plan was to get up on them, and then defend. It didn’t work out that way.”
McKenna, though, was proud of how the United handled the adversity of falling behind in the second half.
“They didn’t give up, which we talked about never quitting throughout the year,” said McKenna. “We had a team saying that said, ‘It takes a team to live the dream.’”
"We set a long-term goal at the start of the year that we want to get to nationals. Last night (Monday), with all their hard work, practising and workouts, they came together and achieved the goal.” United head coach Sara McKenna
Focus on nationals
Now the 18-member United squad’s focus immediately turns to the national championship. The team has to raise about $25,000 for the trip to Lethbridge.
“We’ll do our best, take each day at a time and work away at it,” said McKenna. “It’s an amazing opportunity for the girls.”
McKenna said the fundraising work will start immediately, and a parents’ meeting was scheduled for Tuesday evening.
“We are just getting all the particulars, and we will have a lot of fundraising in the next six weeks,” said McKenna. “We are going to keep practising a couple of days a week, but we will also be on a full blitz to fundraise.”
As for the upcoming nationals, McKenna has a simple message for her players: “Take in the experience, live in the moment and do your best because hard work pays off.”
Summerside United season recap:
League: P.E.I. Subway Under-14 Girls Soccer League (Premier Division).
Regular season: 9-3-3 (won-lost-tied) record was good enough for first place overall.
Scoring: United outscored their opposition 35-12 in the regular season, and 5-1 in the playoffs.
Next: United will be P.E.I.’s representative at the Canadian under-14 girls soccer championship in Lethbridge, Alta., from Oct. 9 to 14.
Quote: “We call ourselves ‘United Nation,’” said Summerside head coach Sara McKenna.