It was a repeat performance in the Hub City for the Summerside United.
The United, coached by Wade Smith and Michelle Johnson, went undefeated en route to winning the under-18 girls’ championship of the Codiac First Touch FC annual soccer tournament in Moncton, N.B., for the second year in a row.
“Our team played solid all weekend,” assessed Smith. “We moved the ball well and played a great defensive game.
“Michelle and I are very proud of our girls’ effort. They are a great group of girls.
“It was a complete team effort, but I would like to recognize how well our keeper, Kyrsten Coyle, played this weekend. She was aggressive and only allowed one goal (in five games) all weekend.”
The only shot to get by Coyle came in the championship game – a 2-1 United victory in overtime against Central Navy – on Sunday. Hannah LeClair scored for Summerside in regulation time and Abby Christopher netted the golden goal high into the net off a beautiful four-way passing play.
“It was awesome (to win the tournament),” said United centre-mid and striker Hayden Chaisson of St. Louis. “I love playing across and you don’t know what to expect from teams.
“When you think of P.E.I. compared to New Brunswick or Nova Scotia in soccer, we are kind of considered the underdog, so it’s nice to go over there and win.”
Coyle completed play with four shutouts in five games as the United completed play in the three-day tournament 5-0-0 (won-lost-tied).
“My back-line was very strong, so I didn’t have to make many big saves (throughout the tournament), probably only one or two,” said Coyle, deflecting praise to her teammates. “I was aggressive, I came out and kicked the ball a lot.
“Once the ball got over half my back-line was always there supporting and getting the balls back up the field.”
Coyle, who is from Linkletter, explained what playing aggressively means for a soccer keeper: “It means more playing out of your net so when a ball comes you are right there wanting to come out and attack it. You are kicking it up the field or picking it up instead of just staying back in your net and letting them come in and get lots of easy shots from different angles. It’s better to get out and be on the ball.”
Summerside punched its ticket to the final with a 2-0 decision over Restigouche in a semifinal game Sunday morning.
Hilarie Gaudet and Liz Mulligan dented the twine and Coyle continued her stellar work in goal.
“We are very good at playing our own game and just doing what we have to do to put the ball in the back of the net and win,” said Chaisson.
The United, defending 2018 provincial champions currently sitting in first place of the Subway P.E.I. Under-18 Girls Soccer League (Premier Division) at 5-0-2, opened play Friday with a 4-0 victory over Codiac. Ellen Cole (2), Chaisson and Avery Simpson provided goals.
Summerside played two games on a scorching hot Saturday. Chaisson and Gaudet found the back of the net in the United’s 2-0 win over Central Orange.
Summerside then topped FDSC 5-0 to finish round-robin play 3-0. Chaisson and Christopher each found the back of the net twice and Gaudet added one goal to account for Summerside’s scoring.
“Oh my gosh, it was crazy,” said the 17-year-old Chaisson in describing what it was like playing in the heat. “It’s hard to play in heat like that.
“You want to play well, and you have to push yourself more.
“It’s nice that with our team every single player is a player you can put on the field at any time in any game and they can do what they have to do. It’s nice to have the depth we do.”
Chaisson did point out teams were given water breaks Saturday.
Coyle added it was “very tiring” playing in the heat.
“I didn’t have to do too much, but just standing there in the heat on the turf it was really hot,” said Coyle, 16.