En route to winning provincial under-17 soccer title
CASCUMPEC – To say the West Prince Storm overcame adversity en route to winning a provincial soccer title would be an understatement.
© Submitted photo
The West Prince Storm recently captured the Subway P.E.I. Under-17 Boys Soccer League playoff championship.
The Storm won the Subway P.E.I. Under-17 Boys Soccer League championship recently, with a thrilling 1-0 overtime win over the No. 2-seeded Stratford Foxes at the Sherwood Soccer Complex.
“I’ll be honest with you, going into the final I did not expect to win,” said West Prince coach Garth Watters. “I knew we’d have a good chance, we were the top-seeded team. One of our top players (Tanner Bernard) was red-carded in the semifinal game on Thursday, so we lost him (to a suspension). We had another starter who had a tryout with the Amherst Ramblers’ (junior A hockey team), and that was (keeper) Cole Hackett.
“We only carried 17 players, and it was a real tough game. We played a scoreless game and with 20 minutes left in the game, one of my top players, Mike Peters, took a point-blank shot in the throat that knocked him out.”
That resulted in a 45-minute delay while Peters was attended to and transported by ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“The assistance in Sherwood was second to none,” said Watters, who was pleased to report Peters was released from hospital later that evening. “There were four nurses and two doctors on the field with him.”
After there was no scoring through 90 minutes, the teams played two 15-minute overtime periods that were not sudden-death.
With four minutes remaining in the first extra half, the Storm connected off a corner kick with what stood up as the game-winning goal.
“It was quite a scramble,” said Watters. “We literally had three point-blank shots.”
Brolin Turner made a short kick to Elliot Watters outside the box. Watters then moved into the box and made a pass to Colton Chaisson, who took the initial shot. Ryan Keizer picked up the rebound and pounded it off the cross bar, but Logan VanderVelden was right there to head the ball into the goal.
“It was a very, very good game,” recalled Coach Watters. “It was probably one of the gutsiest efforts I have ever seen on any team I have ever coached.
“We had nothing left in the tank, and I had no subs left. But we were getting stronger, that was the amazing thing because it was almost like the boys could sense it was coming.
“It was a very, very good game. It was probably one of the gutsiest efforts I have ever seen on any team I have ever coached. We had nothing left in the tank, and I had no subs left. But we were getting stronger, that was the amazing thing because it was almost like the boys could sense it was coming. Even in the second extra period, Stratford had a couple of chances, but we had the momentum at that point and we felt we were going to win it.” West Prince coach Garth Watters
“Even in the second extra period, Stratford had a couple of chances, but we had the momentum at that point and we felt we were going to win it.”
With Hackett unavailable, Declan MacLeod, one of five players on the Storm who is just turning 15 this year, responded with a shutout.
“This kid is so competitive, and he was solid,” said Garth Watters. “It’s tough when kids have not played a lot at that level, and games are that intense.”
With his team missing key players, Garth Watters restructured the Storm’s approach.
“I’ll be honest with you, the best players I put them in the back and defended, defended,” he said. “We had lots of offence, but we couldn’t just finish.”
Possession-wise, Garth Watters assessed West Prince controlled the ball 60 per cent of the final.
“Both teams were there to play,” he said. “It was a very physical game, and there were probably seven or eight yellow cards given out.
“It’s a competitive sport, and kids were playing hard knowing there was no tomorrow. That is what you want, and that is what made me so proud of my kids.”
This was the first year for the under-17 league, and the West Prince coach couldn’t be more pleased with how things turned out.
“It was a very competitive league consisting of eight teams,” said Watters. “The purpose of the league was to retain kids after U16 because a lot of kids didn’t want to go into U18, and there weren’t that many teams.
“This allowed (the) P.E.I. Soccer (Association) to retain probably close to 150, 200 kids across the province. It was a very, very successful endeavor on the part of P.E.I. Soccer.”