From back left to front right: Meagan Manson, Kacey Mcfee, head coach Randy Magee, Teigan Fiset and Diandra Magee, the Prince Albert contingent of the Under-18 Eastside Celtics squad returned home from
--PRINCE ALBERT--The Eastside Celtics, a soccer team compiled of players from Saskatoon and Prince Albert, arrived home from nationals in Fredericton a goal shy of a place in the grand final.
But as the script in soccer so often reads, the under-18 ladies Celtics were unable to find the golden goal against both Quebec and B.C., ultimately leading the girls to a fourth-place finish.
The girls opened their nationals’ account with a 0-0 draw versus a highly touted Quebec outfit, whose squad ran out eventual national winners.
“We dominated the opening game, but you know what,” said Celtics head coach Randy Magee. “If you can’t score you can’t win, but we did outplay them and that is probably the most disheartening – is we outplayed the team that won the whole thing.”
The girls started the tournament a little “panicky,” said Prince Albertan Meagan Manson. But the 17-year-old said the girls settled down expertly, commanding the midfield and dominating possession against Quebec, the perennial juggernauts of Canadian soccer.
“I think we should have beaten Quebec in the first game,” said Teigan Fiset. “For sure, because we had the ball the whole game, we had possession. It kind of sucks they ended up being at the top.
“When we know that we could have beat them, and you always think back to certain plays.”
The girls, however, didn’t let the scoreless draw deter them. Although starting slow in their second game versus B.C – another odds-on favourite – Magee said his side snatched back the impetus and were unlucky to draw their second consecutive game, 1-1.
The girls, in a landslide, smashed Manitoba and Newfoundland to wrap up the round-robin phase. But because Quebec won versus B.C., the Celtics had to settle for second in the group, and a subsequent spot in the bronze-medal match versus Alberta.
A stern test was in the offing from kickoff against a handy Albertan side. The Celtics went up a goal early, but conceded three goals on the trot to trail 3-1. The girls pulled a goal back but couldn’t square the match.
Fourth place, however, is an admirable result in the most elite soccer tournament Canada has to offer.
“I think we did really well as a team being from Saskatoon and P.A. We really worked together as a team,” said 17-year-old Diandra Magee, who also hails from Prince Albert and was competing at her third nationals.
Goalkeeper Kacey Mcfee, also from Prince Albert, was happy with the way in which the team represented Saskatchewan. She said Alberta offered the toughest test, a testament to the level of parity displayed on the pitch.
“It was disheartening, but I think we measured up to the competition pretty well,” said the 17-year-old. “We were definitely near the top of the competition.”
The margin between glory and despair is almost negligible at high levels of sport, which was further demonstrated by the Celtics’ Fredericton performance. But Magee and the girls, by leaving nothing out on the pitch, represented Saskatchewan with dignity and pride.
Especially considering the sparse population from which to draw elite players.