Sometimes a draw feels as good as a win. And when you are the underdogs — and outshot 18-5— a tie can feel downright wonderful.
Any member of the St. John’s Hyundai girls’ soccer team today and will vouch for that after the Newfoundland representatives earned a single point in a gritty effort against Alberta’s Edmonton West Raiders in the national Sony U-18 championship tournament Thursday at King George V Park.
While St. John’s girls celebrated after the final whistle, the Alberta players looked downright despondent.
St. John’s earned the tie because of a fearless and near flawless performance by goalkeeper Maris Miller.
“It a fantastic feeling to come out with that result against a big team,” said the Newfoundland goalkeeper. “It feels as good as a win against a big four province like that. We’re on top of the world right now.”
Miller admitted it wasn’t an easy match.
“They (the Albertans) play the ball around so well. They keep it on the floor and they keep possession.”
However, she said keeping busy isn’t a problem for her. In fact, she prefers it.
“I’m more focused when I have more shots,” she said.
St. John’s coach Dragan Mirkovic praised the work of his keeper.
“She was great and her experience from the back is exactly what we need. She was on top of every ball.”
Mirkovic felt his team had a good performance, especially in the second half.
“This was our first game and it takes a little bit of time to deal with the opposition’s speed,” he said.
Miller deflected praise to her teammates.
“I think everybody played well. It’s a team game,” she said.
Fact is, if Miller had been any less superb, her team would have lost by four or five goals.
Alberta’s Claire Hasford, the most dangerous player on the field, opened the scoring at 39-minutes on a header from a corner kick.
Kristen Anstey tied the game one minute from half time.
St. John’s had two good scoring chances in the second half.
The best one came at the 57-minute mark when Shauna Gilpin slipped through a perfect pass to Rebecca Green who fought off a defender and sent the ball just inches wide of the net.
St. John’s plays Saskatchewan 4 p.m. today at Smallwood Park in Mount Pearl.
OTHER GAMES THURSDAY
Ontario 5, New Brunswick 0
GS: Ontario: Tiana Chiappetta (2 goals); Bianca Rossi (16,25), Kristy Miakar (13)
SO: Sara Petrucci
British Columbia 0, Prince Edward Island 0
SO: B.C., Emily Wilson; Prince Edward Island, Katherine Foster
Quebec 6, Nova Scotia 0
GS: Quebec: Lea Chasteney Joseph (4 goals), Roxanne Dionne (1), Marie Christine Gauthier (1)
SO: Charlotte Boudreau
10 a.m. — Manitoba vs P.E.I. at KGV
Noon — British Columbia vs Quebec at KGV
2 p.m. — Alberta vs Ontario at Mount Pearl
4 p.m.— Saskatchewan vs St. John’s at Mount Pearl