Mountain United Football Club claimed their first-ever Canadian title Monday, with their U15 girls topping the host province’s Lakeshore SC in the Canada Soccer National Championship final in Laval, Que.
The Mountain squad, more than half of whom hail from Burnaby, got two goals from Syah Mangat on their way to a 2-1 win over Lakeshore to claim the U15 Cup.
“I’m still in a bit of shock,” head coach Lee Tregonning said Tuesday. “It’s still setting in, to be honest. We’re only six years old as a club, with 240 kids maximum at the club, and then to go in and not just beat, but outplay clubs that are 12,000 kids large, it’s pretty spectacular. We played really good football. We call it the Mountain way – it wasn’t a kick-fest, it was outplay an opponent, outfight them, out battle team. It was just amazing.”
Mountain United is an all-star club made up of youth players from soccer associations along the Sea-to-Sky corridor, predominantly focused on the North Shore and Burnaby. MUFC teams play in the BC Soccer Premier League, an eight-team elite league that covers the province.
“A massive thank you to our partner clubs,” said Tregonning. “Without them we can’t create these players, we won’t get these players.”
At nationals the MUFC U15 squad put up a perfect 5-0 record while topping some of the powerhouse programs from across the country. In the group stage the girls knocked off P.E.I. 3-1 before beating Ontario’s Cumberland United 2-1 to win their group. The girls then topped Manitoba’s Winnipeg Bonivital SC 3-1 to advance to the semifinals where they beat a tough Alberta team from Calgary’s South West United 2-1 to make the final.
In the championship game the Lakeshore squad, from the Montreal suburb of Kirkland, had a large home-crowd advantage but a vocal contingent of about 30 travellers were there backing Mountain United. Mangat opened the scoring 17 minutes into the game while Lakeshore tied it up nine minutes into the second half. With less than 10 minutes left, Holly Ward scooped up a loose ball just near the halfway line and pushed towards goal, sliding a diagonal pass to Mangat who streaked into the 18-yard box and fired a shot inside the far post. The Quebec team pressed for an equalizer but MUFC held firm to secure the title.
“It was a bit nervy, as you can imagine with 15-year-old girls trying to hold a lead, but still comfortable in a way,” said Tregonning of the game’s final minutes. “I think in the end it was a well-deserved win. I don’t believe it should have been 2-1, it should have been more comfortable, but they only had one shot on target and they scored. It was well deserved overall, there was no luck in it for us.”
“A very talented, strong group of girls – mentally strong mindset, physically strong, and can pass anyone off the park. Absolutely brilliant,” said Tregonning of his squad. “They’ve got a great group of parents and they get on fantastically well. They have that bond that you need to have a successful team. Yes they are talented, very very talented, and we have depth in the team, we have strength all the way through, everyone played a part. It wasn’t just the starting 11, it was everyone.”
The team was adept at playing the ball possession game that MUFC focuses on, said Tregonning.
“We keep it on the ground, we’re a possession team so we build from the back. Very rare do we go long. We try to get everyone to touch the ball as much as possible because we believe that’s what helps develop players. The process has worked and the results are showing now.”
While this was the first national championship win for the young club, the real story of MUFC’s success is not told in their trophies but rather in their players, said Tregonning.
“It’s not about the win for us,” he said. “We don’t measure success on winning, we usually measure success on how many players we move on to the next level, if it’s the Whitecaps, national programs, college programs, universities … This is just a bit of a bonus, really, winning nationals. It’s not about the winning for us, it’s how many players can we move on and hopefully this win will open the eyes or university and college coaches and say, ‘Oh hang on a minute, we have a club here in B.C. that is playing a great brand of soccer.’”