MWV Soccer Club - U14 champs - better

The MWV Soccer Club’s U14 girl’s team won the prestigious Amherst Tournament over Memorial Day weekend. (BRIAN ALBERT PHOTO)

AMHERST — The Mount Washington Valley Soccer Club’s U14 girls team took top honors at the 29th annual Memorial Day Classic Tournament in Amherst. Held over three days, May 28-30, the hometown booters took the beautiful game to the next level and played exciting soccer while going 5-1 on the weekend in one of the largest tournaments in New England.

This year’s Memorial Day Classic Tournament attracted 350 youth girls and boys teams from across New England.

Members of the MWV team are Hallee Albert, Sally Baptista, Lily Bradbury, Brooklyn Gagne, Lexie Gagnon, Lilah Howard, Myra Johnston, Alyssa Kenny, Lillian Killourie, Adelyn McAllister, Katherine McPaul, Grace Sanfilippo, Hazel Schuft and Lydia Wiggin.

Oona Davidson Pullan, Macie Marcotte, Anjali McDonnell and Lisette are on the team but were unable to play Amherst weekend.

The team is coached by Kelly Gagnon and Meghan McPaul.

“It was a great weekend of soccer,” said Coach Gagnon. “Our girls played great.”

The MWV squad features players from five different schools: Berlin, Franconia, Fryeburg Academy, Gorham and Kennett.

Teams played 11 v. 11 in two 30-minute halves except for the opening match on May 28 which was shortened to two 25-minute halves due to the weather.

MWV opened pool play with a convincing 4-0 victory over OSNK United from Rhode Island on May 28. Later that day, Gagnon’s troops fell 2-0 to River City from Bangor, Maine.

“River City is a really talented team,” said Gagnon. “They had good ball movement and were a little stronger than we were ready for.”

The following day, MWV met Nashua Youth Soccer. The two teams play in Division III of the New Hampshire Soccer League. MWV needed a win or a draw to advance to the knockout round. The girls from the North Country rolled to a 4-0 win to punch their tickets into the next round.

“We only had three subs and it was a very hot weekend,” said Gagnon. “Every single player contributed.”

On Monday, May 30, MWV met Hampshire United from Amherst, the No. 1 seeds, and a team that plays up a level in the NHSL in Division II. The girls from Amherst scored first but then it was all MWV who went on to win 3-1 to advance to the finals.

The championship match saw MWV face a familiar foe in River City. While they weren’t ready for the first encounter, the MWV girls proved they were quick learners. They came out and played with confidence took an early lead and went on to win 4-2 to lift the trophy.

Trailing 1-0, River City managed to tie the match at 1-1 before halftime, but MWV regained the lead and built on it. Up 2-1, MWV was awarded a direct free kick. Wiggin unleashed a thunderbolt from 35 yards out that whistled into the upper right-hand corner of the net. No goalie in the world could have stopped that blast.

With the 3-1 lead MWV goalie Gagne put her stamp on the match with a terrific save of a penalty kick. With the momentum, MWV tacked on an insurance goal to go up 4-1. River City pulled a goal back with 20 seconds to play but it was too little too late for the girls from the Pine Tree State.

“Everybody was tired going into the finals but this group of kids had an extra gear,” Gagnon said. “They just wanted this game so badly.”

Six members of the MWV squad have been teammates since they were on the MWV U10 team.

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