NORTH SYDNEY: The Strait United U15 Girls returned home with provincial gold – just like they did last year.
“It was a really positive effort from the girls all weekend,” said coach Drew MacQuarrie, just after returning from the North Sydney tournament. “From the very first game, they set the tone for the entire tournament. They played well from the first player to the last; it was a real team effort.
“One thing that really stood out with the girls was their sportsmanship and the way they won the games. We had coaches from other teams say how impressed they were with the girls and how they played. That meant a lot to them.”
Taking Soccer Nova Scotia’s top prize, MacQuarrie added, meant a lot to the girls as well.
“This was a U15 Girls team that had some second-year players who played U15 last year, but most were first-year players who came up from the U13s,” he said. “Last year, both the U13s and U15s won gold. This is the first time for the club that we’ve had repeat champions.
“They’ve been working hard since dry-land training started last April, and it really showed.”
The first game (1:30 p.m. Saturday) was against East Kings. Strait United got out to an early 2-0 lead in that one, and the final was 3-1. The next game (5:30 p.m. Saturday) was against North Sydney. The girls once again came out with an early lead. They were up 2-0 before halftime, and the final was 4-1.
“We saw really good attacking throughout the tournament, on passes, on corner kicks,” MacQuarrie said. “They really came through there.”
Semi-finals (9:30 a.m. Sunday) saw Strait United drop Bridgewater’s Thunder Soccer Club 4-0.
The championship was a rematch against East Kings. With just four-and-a-half minutes played, the Strait was leading 2-0.
“And they never looked back,” MacQuarrie said. “The final was a 4-0.”
“Playing four games in essentially a 24-hour period could have been hard on the girls, but their fitness was there,” MacQuarrie said.
Looking back on soccer action throughout the summer in a broader sense, MacQuarrie said the club had a great season. MacQuarrie is not only a coach but also the vice president of the club.
The mini-program (U4 to U10) ran through June and July, cutting out the month of August to allow families a little more time to schedule vacations or the like. Monday was technical nights, and Wednesday was game nights. MacQuarrie said the format was very successful, with enrollment expanded and player retention lasting through the summer.
The club made a significant investment in netting and pinnies, and the end of the season was time for the Tim Horton’s jamboree.
“On the older side, we did something new as well,” MacQuarrie said. “Prior to this year, we had a senior men’s team playing in the highland league, but what we found is that we weren’t getting the numbers. So this year we did a local drop-in league, made it co-ed, and it was very popular.”
Going forward, the possibility of winter soccer is being discussed for the senior teams and having academies for the younger players is an option. The club owes a great deal of success to its 20 coaches and volunteers who lead the teams, MacQuarrie said.
“We’re happy with where the club has come and where it’s heading,” he said.