The United combined a strong offence, stingy defence and a team-first attitude en route to winning the Subway P.E.I. Under-20 Girls Soccer League championship. The United capped an undefeated season by earning a solid 3-0 win over Stratford in the gold-medal game at Eric Johnston Field on Monday night.
“There’s a saying coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is success,” said United head coach Marta Irvine. “That is what we did.”
Taylor Gillis, who scored two goals in Summerside’s 6-0 semifinal win over Kensington last week, led the way offensively in the final. Gillis displayed some nifty moves around a couple of Stratford defenders to set up the game’s opening goal in the 38th minute to send the United into halftime up 1-0.
Gillis netted her second goal of the night in the 57th minute, and Brianna Gunning found the back of the net ach in the 81st minute to put the game out of reach.
“This team (Stratford) was much better than what we saw in the summer,” assessed United assistant coach Stephen Gaudet. “We beat them twice in the regular season, but it was much more difficult (Monday).
“They played hard right from the start. We had a couple of nice goals by probably the best player in the league (Gillis). It took our best to beat them.”
Palmer records shutout
United goaltender Kierstyn Palmer, who played every game this season, recorded another clean sheet.
One impressive statistic is the United gave up only two goals in the team’s 10 games – a feat Gaudet described as a team effort, including the unsung contributions of the defensive players.
“We probably had about seven fullbacks,” continued Gaudet. “It wasn’t like we had three or four who played all year. They all played, and we had full confidence in every one of them.”
Overall, the United completed league regular-season and playoff action at 9-0-1 (won-lost-tied). Stratford was 5-5-0 overall.
“These girls worked really hard,” said Gaudet. “We knew we had a real good team from the start, but it was a solid league and no games were easy.”
Irvine and Gaudet both praised the attitude and work ethic of the United players.
“The girls are very coachable, respectful and they encourage each other,” said Irvine. “Soccer is a team sport, and they played as a team.”
Both Summerside coaches also took great pride in watching as the United players celebrated and posed for photos with the championship trophy.
“There are a few girls over there who have never won a gold medal before, so it’s a great night,” concluded Gaudet.