By Ryan Cooke
It’s not often a team gets a chance to play host to the country, but that’s just what the Winsloe-Charlottetown under-16 Royals are preparing to do.
The Royals secured a spot in the Island-hosted national tournament by reaching the final of the P.E.I. under-16 female premier league.
They lost in the final to the Sherwood-Parkdale Rangers.
Head coach Glen Miller said his team is eager for the chance to play against the rest of the nation on home turf.
“I think they’re very excited,” he said. “I think this is what every player plays for.”
The team will face stiff competition against Ontario and Nova Scotia in the round robin, but will have the advantage of not having to travel or stay in hotels, Miller said.
He anticipates Ontario to field a strong team, but believes his squad can play a style to hang with them.
“If the team can defend well and play with high energy, we can stick around in that game.”
Keeping a positive attitude will also be key for his team, he said.
“The big thing with our kids is that we have to go out there and believe in ourselves and not allow the first 10 to 15 minutes to pass by in fear. If we can do that, that will keep us in the game a lot longer and a lot stronger.”
Miller’s Royals might be a strong defensive-minded team, but they do possess a couple offensive weapons on the front end.
Two of the team’s strikers, Emma Clark and Jacqulyn Sudsbury, ranked among the league leaders in goals during the regular season and will be looked upon to province some spark.
“They’ll be clutch,” he said. “They know that when it comes to these games, opportunities might not be aplenty, so they’re going to have to capitalize on the chances that they do get.”
With a smaller talent pool to choose from, and less exposure to national competition, Miller said neither P.E.I. team has an easy draw.
However, the Royals could hang tough with the big guns, the coach said.
“It’s going to be tough, but the most important thing is that we’ve got to try and walk in with a humble attitude, but somehow find a confidence and a belief in ourselves.”