KENSINGTON – The old saying that teams, not individuals, win championships certainly applies to the Kensington under-16 girls.
“What I found their greatest strength was they played great as a team,” assessed Kensington head coach Calvin MacLean. “I could throw any of the girls out there, and they were all going to play the same.
“I never had to be concerned about our substitutions. You wouldn’t notice a difference with one coming out and one coming in.”
Kensington capped its run to the Subway P.E.I. Under-16 Girls Soccer League (First Division) championship with a 3-0 win over the Summerside Team Two United in the final recently.
“I figured it was going to be close,” said MacLean. “Although the score was 3-0, Summerside played a good game and had chances too.”
Kelsey MacLean (2) and Jillian Lawless scored for Kensington, which received another strong performance from keeper Shelby Sudsbury.
“Shelby was able to make the saves, including a couple early in the game when she was able to punch them wide, and our back line frustrated their forwards, not giving them the open space they needed,” recalled MacLean.
Sudsbury was also outstanding in what MacLean described as a “tense” 1-0 semifinal win over Stratford in penalty kicks last week. She stopped two penalty shots in the first half, and five of six penalty kicks.
“Some keepers at these age groups in those types of games are thinking, ‘I do not want to go into penalty shots,’” said MacLean. “It didn’t seem to fizz her.”
Sudsbury received support from a strong unit of fullbacks, noted MacLean, including Brianna Davison, Jillian Marchbank, Kristen Cash, Olivia Mullins, Emma Dibbling, Abbie Wainwright and Hannah Woodside.
“I remember at the first of the year the girls who said they were interested in playing the fullback line were all quiet,” said MacLean. “I wondered how timid we were going to be on the back line, but it only took 10 or 15 minutes into the first game to realize that wouldn’t be the case.
“They may not have a lot to say, but they always came ready to play. They were stingy, would battle hard against any girl, big or small, did really well at keeping the ball out of the middle forcing the other team to the outside and they supported each other well.”
At the halfback position, Cassidy Champion, Emily Woodside and Lydia Hunter played a lot on the outside while Claya Cole, Abby Donald and Jensen Mayne were in the middle.
“Claya really helped a lot in keeping the connection between the fullback line and the halfback line,” offered MacLean. “Jensen and Abby’s defending ability throughout the year, especially the last couple of games, really helped a lot with limiting the chances and winning the battles you need to win to win games.”
Lawless, MacLean and Victoria Bond anchored the front line.
“They had a lot of speed and could pressure the fullbacks, and did well moving the ball,” said MacLean. “They were good at finishing their opportunities.
“During games throughout the season that we won, we may not have had that many more opportunities than the other team; it was that we were good at capitalizing.”
Dibbling, Bond, Wainwright and Hannah Woodside were all eligible to play under-14 soccer this summer, but moved up an age division to help fill out the under-16 roster. MacLean said all three fit in well, and played key roles.
Brenda Champion and Becky Donald were MacLean’s assistant coaches, and the trio led Kensington to a first-place finish on the strength of an 8-1-1 (won-lost-tied) regular-season record.
“Brenda and Becky looked after all the organizational things, and all I had to do was show up at the field, do the practices and help with games,” said MacLean. “It was a really great year, I enjoyed it and a big part of it is what Becky and Brenda did.
“They kept the girls motivated and also could tell me if I’m pushing too much or not pushing enough. Sometimes it was I’m not pushing enough and they were like, ‘Make them run that extra bit and get them going.’”
Later This Week
Be sure to watch the Journal Pioneer later this week for a story on the West Prince team that won the P.E.I. Under-17 Boys Soccer League championship.