By Thomas Becker
They recruited her because she has a knack for scoring goals and on Friday night, rookie striker, Madison Hurley scored a pair of them to lead the UPEI Panthers to a 4-1 win over the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus.
Hurley wasn't even in the starting lineup, but was thrown into battle after teammate Jade–Evelyne Bellemare was forced to leave the game with an injury.
"Sometimes coming off the bench is the best thing that can happen. She came out with a bit of fire in her and it worked out for us," said head coach Graeme McDonald. "I'm really happy for her."
Six games in, Hurley admitted she felt pressure not having scored yet. But after connecting on her first AUS goal, she relaxed and realized she belongs in this league.
"It feels really good. I was working for it for the last few games and today I felt it and then it happened, and I got another one too," said Hurley, who was named Subway Player of the Game. "When I came out today, I told myself I'm going to play my game and the way I'm used to playing without feeling the pressure."
Before Hurley's offensive outburst, it was a pair of veterans who got things going for the Panthers (2-4-1). A nasty collision between Lauren Clark and Moncton (1-6) keeper Chelsea Burnham led to the opening goal, as Jennifer Balderston connected on a free kick outside the box that curled past Burnham in the 8th minute.
In the 32nd minute, Tyffanie Bordage chipped a shot past the keeper from the six-yard box to extend the lead 2-0, where they led at halftime.
UPEI didn't let up in the second half and five minutes in, Bordage sent a beautiful pass to Hurley, who volleyed it home to push the lead to 3-0.
After Clark fired a shot off the oncoming keeper, an alert Hurley gathered the rebound in the 59th minute and deposited her second of the game.
"I saw belief. It was a tough weekend last weekend, but we came out today with belief and motivation in ourselves," McDonald said.
Moncton's Catherine Dupuis added a goal late, but the damage was already done, as the Panthers came away winners 4-1.
"We said we're going to celebrate for five minutes and get right back to the mindset we had today," Hurley said. "This is probably our biggest weekend, and we need these points."
The Panthers return to the pitch on Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. when they welcome the UNB Reds.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan