Originally published on CanadaSoccer.com

It took a penalty shoot-out for Canada to be crowned winner of the inaugural CONCACAF Girls’ Under-15 Championship. Entering the final, both Canada and Haiti were undefeated, having only dropped points to each other during an earlier group stage encounter.

Thus it’s fitting that these two teams should meet again in the final. And like the previous game between them, this was a physical affair, with Canada attempting to break down a tough Haitian defense that sought to absorb pressure and counter.

But even when Canada was a goal down, the Team stayed true to it’s playing style. “I’m very proud of these players,” said Head Coach Bev Priestman. “They showed unity and passion and when we needed them to they, individually, made things happen.

Two moments in particular stand out. The first is the goal by Captain Sarah Startigakis to tie the match at 1-1, with less than six minutes remaining in regular time. The second is the performance of Lysianne Proulx Canada’s goalkeeper. Proulx not only stopped a break away in the opening minutes, but also shut Haiti down in the penalty shoot-out.

“The scary things about this” said Priestman “is that these players could have twenty years in our system. It’s exciting that even at this young age, this team has inspired a nation. I know that they’ve inspired me, and I’m just so proud of them.”

Without a doubt, it was a good night for Canada. In addition to the championship, Stratigakis was named tournament MVP and Proulx the best goalkeeper. And these players are only the beginning said Preistman. “Our development system hasn’t even fully kicked in yet.” Which hopefully means more tournament performances like this in the future.

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