By Michael Booth, Surrey NOW
Surrey United capped an undefeated season by capturing their eighth consecutive women's Provincial Cup title in Aldergrove Sunday.
The runaway regular season winners of the Metro Women's Soccer League's premier division maintained their winning ways with a dominant postseason. Surrey won the MWSL's Premier Cup in March and then blew through the first two rounds of the Provincial Cup draw, outscoring their opponents 12-0. Sunday's finale against Vancouver's Westside was much closer but Surrey was still able to celebrate following a 1-0 win.
"That game was not an indication of how we played all season," said Surrey veteran Randee Hermus. "It was not our best game but it showed the Surrey United grit - it wasn't pretty but we pulled out on top. It was a testament to the players and the drive and determination we have on this team. No matter what it takes, we'll find a way to win."
In the first half it didn't look like Surrey would need grit and determination to extend their seven-year-long win streak of Provincial Cup games. For the first 10 minutes Surrey exerted strong pressure with a half-dozen scoring chances, all of which either went wide of the goal or were stopped by Westside goalkeeper Jackie Dennett.
"Their keeper was absolutely on fire," said Surrey coach Jeff Clarke. "She was probably the best keeper I've seen all year. We played her once before and she was alright but in the final you could tell their game plan was to have her show up big and give them a chance to win. She definitely did her job; she kept them in the game early and gave them hope for making a comeback."
Surrey did manage to squeak one goal past Dennett. In the 20th minute, Nicole Stewart unleashed a hard shot that deflected off a defender's head and into the goal for a 1-0 Surrey lead.
After that however, the play reverted to form with Surrey building up to a scoring chance followed by Dennett spoiling the opportunity.
Thanks to Dennett, Westside stayed within striking distance into the second half as they awaited a chance to score against the flow of play.
"Westside is a great team and we knew they would be tough," Hermus said. "They are by means a team that we took for granted and we knew it wouldn't be easy. We were definitely the stronger team on the day but all they needed was one goal and anything could have happened."
Hermus almost provided an insurance marker midway through the second half when her header in traffic appeared to cross the goal line. The referee was unable to see through the group of bodies in the penalty box, however, and the game continued with the score 1-0 in Surrey's favour.
"Who's to say but it looked like it was across the line," Hermus said. "The game was won anyway so it didn't matter. If that goal would have been the difference then maybe I would have fussed more about it but in the end it didn't matter - one goal was enough."Surrey's defence held for the remainder of the game and when the final whistle sounded, United was making plans for an eighth straight strip to the national championships. This year's tournament will take place in Montreal on Thanksgiving weekend.
When asked if winning provincial titles is getting old for Surrey players, Hermus quickly denied it.
"Are you kidding? Not at all," the national team stalwart said. "When the final whistle blew it was the same intensity and craziness and excitement as all the other times we've won. We all still feel it and it's definitely not boring to us. That's one the big reasons I'm still hanging on and still playing."
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