Lucy Power and Lauren MacEachern wrote the final two chapters of a thrilling championship game in the P.E.I. School Athletic Association Intermediate AA Girls Soccer League on Saturday.
Power scored the winning goal in sudden-death penalty kicks while MacEachern provided outstanding goalkeeping as the Birchwood Cobras pulled out a 1-0 victory (2-1 in penalty kicks) over the Stonepark Tigers in an all-Charlottetown clash at the Terry Fox Sports Complex. There was no scoring in regulation time and two five-minute overtime halves.
“It was very exciting because I never scored a goal like that before,” said the 12-year-old Power, a Grade 8 student from Stratford. "I play defence, so I don’t score a lot. I was really excited.”
The first round of penalty kicks featured five players from each team. Emma Matheson opened the scoring on Stonepark’s second attempt. The score remained 1-0 until Alex Newson tied the game on Birchwood’s fourth shot.
With the scored tied 1-1 following the opening round, the teams went to sudden-death penalty kicks. This is when Power stepped to the forefront.
"They needed more people, so I just volunteered because I wanted to shoot,” said Power. “I was really nervous. I just shot it and hoped for the best.”
Power calmly directed her low shot into the corner of the net to give Birchwood the lead, forcing Stonepark into a must-score situation. MacEachern stopped that attempt and raced to join her teammates in a wild on-field celebration by the Cobras.
“It’s Birchwood’s first time (winning the provincial championship) in 13 years – before most of us were born,” said Power. “That is pretty fun.”
A significant storyline in the game was the battle of the keepers as MacEachern and Stonepark’s Maddie Cormier matched each other save for save.
MacEachern, who is from Stratford, was able to make a hand save diving to her left to deny a shot labelled for the corner in the dying minutes of the first half to keep the game scoreless.
In the second half, Cormier got her hands on a high, hard shot from point-blank range to keep Birchwood off the scoreboard.
MacEachern described the penalty kicks as “nerve-racking” and said she knew what she needed to do after Stonepark scored first in penalty kicks.
“I was like, ‘Don’t give up now and there are still a couple of shots left’,” said MacEachern, 11. “I knew if we could score, I just needed to save the rest.”
MacEachern’s play did not go unnoticed. Birchwood co-coach Megan Morrison said the team’s Grade 7 keeper was a key contributor to the team’s playoff success, which included a 1-0 semifinal win over the Summerside Intermediate School Owls.
“She made a couple of big saves (in regulation time) and played like a champ in the PKs,” said Morrison. “In the semifinal game, she made a number of big saves.
“At 11 years old, it’s pretty impressive. She has such a bright future.”
Morrison and Stonepark co-coach Keila Neill both expected a close, hard-fought game. The teams entered the final having split their first two meetings of the season.
“It was a great game from both sides,” said Neill. “You couldn’t have had two more evenly matched and awesome teams to have in the final.”
Warriors win bronze medals
Saidbh Mahar’s goal in the 15th minute was all the offence the East Wiltshire Warriors needed.
The Warriors got by the Summerside Intermediate School Owls 1-0 in the bronze-medal game of the P.E.I. School Athletic Association Intermediate AA Girls Soccer League at the Terry Fox Sports Complex Saturday in Cornwall.
Tasha Kowalchuk registered the clean sheet for East Wiltshire.
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