Anne of Green Gables and potatoes fuel the economy of Prince Edward Island but the Surrey United boys' soccer team was more interested in mining gold from the red clay soil.
The Surrey lads capped an amazing season by winning the national U-16 club championship with a nail-biting 5-4 shootout win over Ontario champion Erin Mills Eagles Monday in Charlottetown.
"The team was fantastic not only on field but off as well. Their discipline and respect was amazing; they played brilliant soccer and competed with pride," said Surrey coach Frank McCann. "I am proud of every one of the boys and the parents of our team. They represented Surrey United and British Columbia with honour and dignity."
The B.C. champs opened the national tourney with a convincing 4-0 romp over Newfoundland on Oct. 3. Their next round-robin outing proved to be their toughest test as they outlasted an old nemesis with a 3-2 win over Quebec champion Braves D'Ahuntsic.
"Our pool was pretty strong and biggest game for us was against Quebec," said Surrey United vice-president Spiro Pegios. "Two years ago many of our players were on the team that went to nationals and lost to the same Quebec team they played this year in the round-robin. Our game against them (this year) was one of the most intense games I've ever seen in youth soccer. It was two teams that highly respected each other and they left it all on the field.
"We were up 3-1 in the second half and if we had scored once more, we probably would have won easily. Instead they got a goal to make it 3-2 and that gave them life and we had to battle them all the way to the final whistle. The teams were so good it could easily have been the national final."
With the Quebec obstacle out of the way, Surrey did not surrender a goal in regulation for the remainder of the tournament. United dispatched Alberta 3-0 and Saskatchewan 7-0 finish in top spot in their pool and clinch a berth in the gold medal game.
Monday's showcase finale against Ontario was just as close as the Quebec showdown. Neither team able to score in regulation time, forcing the matter into a penalty shootout.
Hugo Vieira, Josh Tylor, Bavi Dhaliwal and Mathew Bains all scored on their attempts while Ontario kept pace through the first three rounds. Ontario's fourth penalty try was foiled by a brilliant save by Surrey goalkeeper Lucas Johnson, setting the stage for Obraj Khela to convert the final United PK to clinch the national crown.
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