Brinley Gallant made sure her first goal of the 2019 season was a big one.
Gallant scored the championship-clinching marker with nine minutes remaining in regulation time to break a 2-2 tie and lift the Summerside United under-18 Premier girls to a 3-2 win over Highland FC of Nova Scotia in the deciding game of the Eastern Eagles soccer tournament on Sunday afternoon.
“It was definitely a good one to score – the winning goal in a final of a tournament,” said the 16-year-old Gallant from Summerside. “One of our midfielders, Ashlyn Pridham, put it up in the air into the box and it just came straight to me. I got a foot on it and volleyed it into the bottom right corner of the net.”
Hayden Chaisson and Hannah LeClair also scored in the final for a Summerside squad that put forth a gritty and determined effort throughout the three-day event en route to winning its second tournament title in as many weeks. The United captured the Codiac First Touch FC annual tournament on July 21 in Moncton, N.B.
“We were missing four to six girls all weekend and had only one affiliated player, Kaitlyn Smith,” said United coach Wade Smith. “What I like about this team is it doesn’t matter what players can play on a given day, the ‘team’ always steps up and plays well.”
The United victory in the championship game avenged a 2-1 setback to Highland FC in a round-robin game Friday.
“We had faced the Highland team in the round robin and knew how to switch our game defensively in the championship game to combat their ability to move the ball so well through the middle,” said United coach Michelle Johnson.
Gallant praised her teammates for doing what was needed for success as the United overcame a short-staffed roster all weekend due to work and other commitments.
“We had a lot of people who had to step up and play different positions,” said Gallant, who normally plays the midfield. “For example, I had to play striker in that (final) game.
“It was tough. We only had one sub the first game and the second game we were all tired out from the heat and that was when we played Highland the first time and we ended up losing. It was their first game (of the day) and our second one in the heat and having no (extra) players.
“It’s good we are a solid team that can still play our game even whenever we have people missing. We probably had about five people missing in the final.”
While the final had fans on the edge of their seats, the United’s semifinal against the Sherwood-Parkdale Rangers also featured a nail-biting finish. The teams went directly to a best-of-five penalty kick format after regulation time ended in a 1-1 tie.
Pridham, Ellen Murphy and Liz Mulligan, who scored in regulation time, made no mistakes while keeper Kyrsten Coyle stopped all three Sherwood-Parkdale shooters to send the United to the final.
“She was outstanding,” said Smith referring to Coyle, who was also Summerside’s keeper in the final.
Overall, the United completed play in the three-day event 4-1 (won-lost).
“Wade and I were very pleased with the girls’ effort this weekend,” said Johnson. “We played with a short bench mostly all weekend and the girls had to deal with some extreme temperatures.”
In round-robin play, Hilarie Gaudet scored twice and Chaisson added a single tally as the United opened tournament play with a 3-1 win over RC United. Gaudet scored Summerside’s goal in the loss to Highland FC. Coyle tended goal in the first two matches.
Saturday, the United completed the round robin with a 3-0 victory over Sherwood-Parkdale. Chaisson, Gaudet and Ellen Cole scored while LeClair posted the shutout.
“The girls moved the ball great all weekend,” assessed Smith. “I thought the whole team adjusted well to the different formations we faced all weekend.”