June 30, 2015
Coastal U-16 girls secure Nationals berth with Premier Cup Final glory
Spurred by the pain of a past semi-final loss and the prospect of representing B.C. in the Nationals at home in the Fall, Coastal FC’s U-16 girls Premier team romped to a Provincial title on Sunday.
Led by head coach Steven Duffy, the girls — who were on the wrong end of a gut-wrenching, Provincial Cup semi-final penalty shootout defeat in their U-14 Nationals year in 2013 — dispatched rivals Mountain United with a convincing 3-0 victory in the Premier Cup Final at Burnaby Lakes.
The Coastal girls will now take on the best teams in the country in front of their home crowd when the club hosts the National Championships for their age group in the fall.
As for Sunday’s final, the result, for the most part, was rarely in doubt as Duffy’s injury-ravaged squad — which boasted only one sub — got in behind the stiff Mountain rear-guard time after time, thanks to several defence-splitting passes from midfielders Harneet Dadrao and Avneet Rai.
Indeed, they should have been in front after 20 minutes when captain Dani Steer flashed a ball across the six-yard box to the onrushing Tavia Jasper, who shot straight into the keeper’s arms from about eight yards.
However, Coastal took a deserved lead in the 25th minute after right-sided forward Steer, who was giving Mountain all kinds of problems, was body-checked inside the box as she chased a through ball.
Unperturbed, Steer promptly dusted herself down before coolly slotting the resultant penalty into the despairing Mountain keeper’s bottom left-hand corner.
After dealing with a couple of Mountain corners, Coastal doubled their lead just before half-time when another deft ball from midfielder Rai found Jasper cutting in from the left side to score from just inside the box.
In the second half, as expected, Mountain came out desperately seeking a goal to breathe life into their fading cup final hopes and did manage to exert some pressure on Coastal without really looking like scoring.
And about 55 minutes in, centre back Jess Williams was adjudged to have brought down a Mountain forward inside the box, despite appearing to have won the ball cleanly, sparking furious appeals as the referee pointed to the spot.
In what was later viewed by many on the Coastal bench as a game-changing moment, however, Coastal keeper Jovan Sandhu threw herself down to the left to touch the spot-kick around the post with a fantastic one-handed save.
Sandhu’s heroic stop was a shot in the arm for Coastal, who were conceding possession more than Duffy would have liked and were starting to tire a little in the heat due to their thin bench.
However, with the finishing line in sight, Mountain’s fate was sealed and Coastal all but booked their seat at the National table when, in the 65th minute, Rai’s vision again found the battling Jasper — later named as MVP — with an inch-perfect, split pass to fire high into the net from 18 yards.
“I’m so proud of the girls, as they’ve worked so hard all season. This has been their target all year and they deserved this today,” said coach Duffy.
“So many things have went against us in the last month with injuries, so for the girls to win — and win comfortably in the end — is a testament to how they’ve grown as a team in the last two years.
“We’re very much looking forward now to representing the club and B.C. in the Nationals in front of our home crowd. But we will enjoy this moment for the rest of the summer for sure.”
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