CHARLOTTETOWN – The Summerside United drew on their past successes when they needed it the most.
Now the United are the Subway P.E.I. Under-18 Girls Soccer League (Premier Division) champions.
Summerside doubled the Hillsborough United 4-2 in the championship game under the lights at the UPEI turf pitch on Tuesday.
“It is awesome for the girls,” said Wade Smith, who coaches the Summerside team with Michelle Johnson. “They worked hard all year, so it’s nice to see them rewarded with winning the championship. . .
“Michelle and I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of girls. It was so nice to see the smiles on their faces when the game ended.”
However, it wasn’t an easy road to the title. The teams were tied 2-2 at halftime, and Heidi Lauwerijssen scored what proved to be the championship-clinching goal in the 60th minute to give Summerside a 3-2 lead. Lauwerijssen added a late insurance marker to seal the win.
“We knew it would be a very close game, and both teams battled until the end,” said Smith, who was impressed with the composure his players showed in a tight and pressure-filled game.
“We talked about our success all year, and that we need to win the 50/50 battles (at halftime),” continued Smith. “We wanted to stay patient and do what we have done for our success all year.”
Alexis Power opened the scoring for Hillsborough in the sixth minute, and Julia Johnson pulled Summerside even in the 24th minute. Maddy Hurley of Hillsborough and Ellen Cole of Summerside exchanged goals in the final 15 minutes of the first half.
Winning keeper was Kyrsten Coyle.
Smith, who stressed a “whole team effort” contributed to Summerside’s title run, acknowledged he was not surprised the two clubs combined for six goals.
“Part of our success has been getting the ball to the strikers and them finishing,” explained Smith. “Our midfield has been strong all year, our fullbacks played awesome and Kyrsten has played awesome as keeper all year.”
The provincial championship capped a memorable season for the United. Summerside, which went 3-0-0 (won-lost-tied) and outscored its opposition 12-3 in the playoffs, finished the regular season in first place at 6-1-2.
Summerside also won two tournaments in July hosted by the Eastern Eagles in Montague and Codiac First Touch FC in Moncton, N.B.
“From our keeper out, we are a very well-balanced team,” assessed Smith. “We are also very fortunate to have a few strikers who have very accurate shots.”