All season long the United players were committed to getting better, and they were rewarded for those efforts on Thursday night. With the league’s championship game scoreless through regulation and two overtime periods, the United outscored Hillsborough United 3-0 in penalty kicks to win the provincial title at UPEI in Charlottetown.
“The quote I always live by is, ‘Hard work, plus recreation equals success,’” said United head coach Andrew Dobson. “That is the motto we went by.”
The United completed regular-season league play in fourth place at 3-4-3 (won-lost-tied).
“We probably wouldn’t have been the favourites going into the playoffs, that’s for sure,” admitted Dobson. “I had 17 great girls that bought into what we were doing.
“There were no egos, and we all came together at the right time.”
While acknowledging the United was “a good team,” Dobson admitted there was lots of room for improvement as the season progressed, and the players responded.
“They put in the work,” stressed Dobson. “We did a couple of extra things like more touches at home. For example, if you touch the ball 100 times a day you would log into a website, I would keep track and we would draw for some prizes. . .
“We practised twice a week while most teams practised once, and played games. They all showed up with their smiley faces and work boots on ready to work.”
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The United began their run to the championship with a 1-0 home-field win over the defending-champion RC United (2-5-3) in the quarter-finals. Summerside then posted a 4-0 road victory over first-place Kensington (7-1-2) in the semifinals.
“In fairness to (Kensington), they had a couple of quality players who were missing from the lineup,” added Dobson, who described the final as a very evenly-played contest.
“When you get to penalty kicks after two overtime periods, the game could have gone either way,” said Dobson. “Both teams are winners in my mind.”
Ashlyn Pridham, Hilarie Gaudet and Elly Dobson scored on Summerside’s penalty kicks while keeper Kyrsten Coyle stopped two shots and one Hillsborough attempt missed the net.
It capped a perfect post-season for Coyle, who did not allow a single goal in the three Summerside victories.
“Kyrsten was a gem throughout the playoffs,” said Dobson, who also praised the play of the United back line. “She really stepped up and her confidence grew.
“Kyrsten and Ashlyn Pridham were inspired because their grandfather (Aubrey Pridham) just passed away (earlier this month). . . They did it for their grandfather.”
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Despite a provincial title being on the line, Dobson said Summerside entered the final with a business-as-usual approach.
“I told the girls at the start of the game, ‘It’s their last game of the season regardless, just go have fun, play soccer and whatever happens, happens,’” said Dobson. “It’s no different than playing any other game.
“I just didn’t want them being nervous and beating themselves. I wanted them to enjoy the moment.”