Objective achieved ... for now

Robin
Robin Short
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Province's female soccer side wins opener, qualifies for quarter-finals, will play Alberta today

It was a team with no home this year, but Newfoundland and Labrador's Canada Summer Games women's soccer squad made do with what it had, and it appears an improvised training schedule is paying off.

Newfoundland dumped the host club 3-1 Tuesday in its opening game of the 2009 P.E.I. Games and the win puts the team directly into Thursday's quarter-finals regardless of the outcome of today's game against Alberta.

Heather Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador attempts to get a piece of a ball as it heads towards the Prince Edward Island goal line during the teams Canada Games soccer game in Summerside, PEI Tuesday. Newfoundland and Labrador won 3-1 and will advance

Summerside, P.E.I. -

It was a team with no home this year, but Newfoundland and Labrador's Canada Summer Games women's soccer squad made do with what it had, and it appears an improvised training schedule is paying off.

Newfoundland dumped the host club 3-1 Tuesday in its opening game of the 2009 P.E.I. Games and the win puts the team directly into Thursday's quarter-finals regardless of the outcome of today's game against Alberta.

"It was absolutely vital," said coach Mike Power of the victory.

"Without it we were done ... well, maybe not done, but up against Alberta needing to advance and not a spot you want to be in."

Hannah Rivkin, Jennifer Burry and Erin Edwards scored for Newfoundland.

The visitors grabbed a 1-0 lead on Rivkin's goal, but P.E.I. tied things up just before halftime.

However, Burry restored the lead at the 45-minute mark and Edwards sealed the deal at 73 minutes.

Like their Canada Games male counterparts and several provincial teams, the Games women's squad suffered this season when King George V flooded last year and was put out of commission for the 2009 soccer season. It only got worse when the privately-owned indoor soccer facility - simply known as Johnny Breen's place - crumbled in a late winter storm and now reconstruction is starting from scratch.

Power said he tried to make do, practising on the field next to the old Torbay airport in April - "we weren't allowed, but nobody knows that, until now" - and going on a 10-day training trip to England.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't all that bad.

But the point is, Power and the girls had to scramble.

"The months of April and May were a big loss," he said. "It was a significant chunk of time to miss, but we made the best of a less than ideal situation. The girls hit the gym and worked very hard.

"We did what we could. You know, you do what you have to do. We were looking to make some noise and turn some heads and I think we've done that the first day (at the Games)."

Since the team was assembled, its goal, said Power, was to beat P.E.I. in Game 1, secure a quarter-final berth and go from there.

To do so Tuesday, Newfoundland - decked out in its Netherlands-like orange duds - used a stifling defence and ball possession game to frustrate P.E.I.

Perhaps the player making the biggest impression might have been the littlest player, centre-back Michelle Ward. Only three apples high, Ward came up big defensively on several occasions, thwarting potential P.E.I. scoring chances.

"She's the biggest small girl in Canada," Power beamed. "Her heart is unbelievable. She's the most stubborn defender I've ever met. She's so brave, so tough on the tackle. She's tiny, but she plays like she's 6-4 and 180 pounds."

"I play with heart I guess," smiled the 17-year-old Prince of Wales Collegiate student from Portugal Cove-St. Philips. "People tell me I play bigger than I am.

"I love the sport and I put my all into it."

Newfoundland, the seventh-ranked team in the tournament, controlled play for the most part through 90 minutes, although a letdown late in the first half allowed P.E.I. to briefly dominate which resulted in that province's only goal.

"But we rebounded quickly," Power said. "That goal right after the half was critical. It was a big lift. P.E.I. had a mountain to climb as it was, being at home and all, and we made it even bigger and kept forcing the issue.

"I thought it could have been a couple of more goals. It was an absolutely fantastic performance."

rshort@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta Canada Summerside Torbay England Netherlands Portugal Cove

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  • DB
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Is that what they call an A$$ kickin' .

  • DB
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Is that what they call an A$$ kickin' .