Cross-border girls take gold at Riviere-du-Loup soccer tourney

A team made up of players from both sides of the U.S./Canada border in the St. John Valley battled its way to the top of a McDonald’s U12 AA Soccer Tournament in Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec, on Sunday.

Soccer Edmundston U12 player Taylor Pelletier, from Madawaska, looks to move the ball past an opponent during a weekend tournament in Rivere-du-Loup, July 8 and 9. (Contributed photo)

The Edmundston U12 Girls soccer team, consisting of five players from the Edmundston, New Brunswick, area and five players from Madawaska and St. Agatha on the Maine side of the border traveled to Riviere-du-Loup over the weekend for one of several tournaments the group plans to play throughout the summer months.

The international squad played three 50-minute games in a row Saturday, before moving on to the championship rounds on Sunday. The youngsters then played two games Sunday, pulling through to win the U12 championship, 1-0, versus the Rimouski Fury.

The team actually traveled without one of its players, leaving them with the minimum number needed to play.

Soccer Edmundston’s Lily Roy makes a pass in the gold medal game during a a tournament in Rivere-du-Loup, Quebec, July 9. The team, consisting of players from both sides of the border in the St. John Valley won the game, 1-0. (Contributed photo)

“They were nine girls in a nine versus nine tournament. We had zero substitutes,” said coach Peter Clavette of Madawaska. “We were playing against teams with as many as 16 players.”

The team started out strong Saturday, earning a 6-0 win in the first match. The girls were ahead against the Fury in the second game on Saturday, 3-1, but the Rimouski team was able to come back and tie the game on a late penalty kick. The exhausted Edmundston squad then had to play outside in the rain, with virtually no rest, Clavette said. That third game ended in a 1-1 tie.

The “Divas,” which is what the Edmundston U12 players unofficially call their team, had to earn a spot in the championship game, early Sunday. That was accomplished with an 8-0 victory, which set up the rematch against the Fury.

“It was a back and forth game,” including near misses for both sides, Clavette said. Abbie Lerman, however, was finally able to knock in a penalty kick against the Rimouski squad in the final minutes.

Soccer Edmundston’s U12 coach Peter Clavette celebrates with players following their gold medal win in a tournament in Rivere-du-Loup, July 8 and 9. (Contributed photo)

Clavette, who took over as coach this summer, said his players showed great poise and determination through the tournament, including ignoring some rough play.

“The girls played their hearts out and overcame the odds, winning a thrilling, down to the wire gold medal game,” Clavette said.

Clavette’s team has the largest mix of players from both sides of the border, he said. The U10 team from Soccer Edmundston, which has two players from the U.S. also took the gold in Riviere du Loup over the weekend.

That international flavor is special, Clavette said.

“It it weren’t for soccer, these girls would never see each other,” he said.

Teams in the Soccer Edmundston program play in various tournaments and matches throughout the summer and practice at the high school facilities in Edmundston.

The city hosts its own tournament Aug. 5 and 6.

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