A penalty shootout leads Mountain United to U16 league cup
By Ross Armour
The thrilling finale of a penalty shootout ended up deciding the U16 girls EA Sports BC Soccer Premier League cup final this past Sunday at Burnaby Lake.
With the game locked at a 1-1 stalemate following regular time and penalties, it was left to Mountain United goalkeeper Priya Sandhu to steal the show and lead her team to glory against South Fraser FC.
Sandhu, along with goalscorer in regular time Margaret Hadley, are set to join the Vancouver Whitecaps following the end of the 2012 season, along with another eight girls from the team.
“I think after the long season we’ve had, we’ve been the most consistent and definitely the most technically gifted and talented team, hence why 10 players are moving on to the Whitecaps,” said Mountain coach Lee Tregonning following his side’s victory.
“I think this game showed our strength overall squad-wise. We moved the ball better, we kept the ball better and I personally think we created the most chances.”
The coach also said he thought his team should have sealed the game in normal regular time of 90 minutes.
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“When you get to that penalty shootout, you never know who’s going to win, but the girls were still good enough to get the win on penalties and I’m very happy and very proud of them,” said Tregonning.
Despite Mountain boasting and fielding its 10 Whitecaps prospects, the hosts were pegged back mid way through the second half after a corner was headed home to equalize for South Fraser.
Tregonning admitted it was “a disappointment” to lose a goal from a set piece but also commented saying he didn’t think the original corner should have been given.
Goalkeeper Sandhu was judged to have taken the ball out of play following a diving save in front of her right hand post.
“It was a bit of a dodgy refereeing decision,” said Tregonning on the award if the corner that lead to the visiting goal. “But conceding from set pieces is always disappointing especially when you’ve dominated the game.”
Mountain’s coach also gave credit for the opposition’s defensive display.
“They did defend well. Most teams play that way against us because they know we keep the ball so well. They try and get everyone behind the ball and catch us on the counter attack,” said Tregonning.
“South Fraser did well. They’re a solid unit but in the end, we definitely came through and deserved the victory.”
Striker Hadley gave Mountain the lead early in the second half as midfield playmaker Reetu Johal got down the inside right channel and delivered a textbook low cross for Hadley to slam home into the gaping net.
A fairly quiet period of extra time lead the game to penalties giving Tregonning’s side a sweet taste of elation in the final game of the 2012 season.
“Funnily enough we had our last practice as a team on Friday and we don’t usually practise penalties but obviously it worked in the end,” said the coach.
Mountain won the penalty shootout by three to one as ‘keeper Sandhu made two heroic saves to deny South Fraser and win her team gold medals.
Tregonning admitted that penalties are down to an aspect of luck and “50-50″ but was quick to praise his goalkeeper.
“It’s luck of the draw and our ‘keeper Priya who is a penalty shoot genius, saved us and won it for us.”
South Fraser coach Bob Birarda was quick to recognize the talented team his troops came up against.
“This is a very talented Mountain team and I thought it was a fantastic performance from our group,” he said.
“It’s been very tough to get results off of these guys and unfortunately the result didn’t go the way we wanted in the end, but once you get to penalties- what can you do? In the meantime, we had a great performance.”
Following his team’s goal via a header from a corner, Birarda commented on how a lot of goals are scored this way in the women’s game.
“I think the defending in the box is different, especially in the women’s game, and we score a lot of our goals from set pieces.”
Birarda admitted that corners and free kicks are a vital part of the modern game.
The South Fraser coach signed off by predicting that he envisions seeing a lot of his opponent’s players playing on the Canadian national team some day.