Under-14 girls begin play in national soccer ch’ships on Wednesday
SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside United under-14 girls will hit the national spotlight this week.
© Michael Nesbitt/Journal Pioneer
Brianna Gunning, right foreground, defends against Taylor Gillis during a Summerside United practice at Eric Johnston Field on Saturday. The United begins plays at the Canadian under-14 soccer championships in Lethbridge, Alta., on Wednesday.
The United is P.E.I.’s representative at the Canadian under-14 championships in Lethbridge, Alta. The Eastern Eagles are P.E.I.’s boys’ representative.
“The girls are super excited,” said United head coach Sara McKenna. “It’s a huge opportunity and they are looking to make the best of it. . . I never made it to nationals, and I played soccer my whole life.”
The United earned the right to represent P.E.I. by posting a 2-1 come-from-behind win over West Prince in the provincial championship game at UPEI on Aug. 26.
“The girls have worked really hard this year,” said McKenna. “Over the years we have always been competitive with this age group, but this year they took it to an extra level with their fitness and focus.
“They were just really having a good time with each other. It’s worked out well, and there is good team morale.”
The United is hoping to build on that morale in Lethbridge, where the United will play a total of five games.
The United is in a pool with Alberta’s SWU Napoli and British Columbia’s Surrey United Soccer Club. Summerside plays Alberta on Wednesday and British Columbia on Thursday, with both games beginning at 5 p.m., Atlantic time.
The United does not play on Friday.
“The girls are super excited. It’s a huge opportunity and they are looking to make the best of it. . . I never made it to nationals, and I played soccer my whole life.” United head coach Sara McKenna
“The girls are actually going to go into Calgary and do a tour of the city,” said McKenna, who added the team’s results of the round-robin games will determine when they play on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
With school soccer underway, the United has only been able to practise as a team on the weekends while the players have been keeping up their fitness to prepare for the nationals.
“They all know how important this is, and they want to be ready,” said McKenna, who added the United has discussed realistic team goals.
McKenna continued: “We put a goal out there to make sure everyone plays hard. Basically, we would like to get a couple of goals and defend very strong.”
McKenna acknowledged the United has played strong defensively all season, and is confident her team will have a strong showing against the top teams in Canada.
“I’m super proud of their accomplishments,” said McKenna. “We are going to take it as it comes at us, try and have a good time and keep it drama free!”
The United, who flew out of Charlottetown early Tuesday morning, will fly home late Monday night.