19 and Counting

In the 36-year history of the Provincial Challenge Cup, the St Lawrence Laurentians have won 19 Provincial Challenge Cup titles. All other soccer clubs combined have only won a total of 17 championships. Of these, Holy Cross has won 11 championships. The former Burin Eagles have won both in 1990 and 1991. The Feildians of St. John’s claimed the championship in 1969. Both the Lawn Shamrocks and the Grand Bank Gee Bees were crowned Provincial Challenge Cup Champions on one occasion each. A collection of provincial All-Stars represented Newfoundland in 1970.The greatest feat provincially is the current eight consecutive Provincial Challenge Cup Championship won by the St. Lawrence Laurentians on this Labour Day Weekend.

Laurentians - 2002’s Best

I would like to explain that the best team won the Provincial Challenge Cup title again in 2002. The Laurentians of 2002 have lost only one game this season. St. Lawrence's 1st place finish in Round One and their 1st place finish in Round Two, combined with their two victories in the provincial showdown played during Labour Day weekend, clearly demonstrates that Newfoundland will again be represented at this years National tournament by "Newfoundland's best". Five of the Laurentians have been named to this years Challenge Cup All Star team. They are Richard Kelly, Rudy Norman, Clinton Edwards, Paul J. Slaney and Chris Caines. Two of the four NLSA individual awards in 2002 were handed out to Laurentians players Clinton Edwards (top defender) and Paul J Slaney (most gentlemanly and effective player). The St. Lawrence Laurentians acclaimed the honour of having the top two goal scorers, Richard Kelly and Rudy Norman.

Holy Cross comes knocking.

Right from the very first day that it became known that Paul Reddy had accepted the head coach's position with Holy Cross, I felt, because of Paul's personality, he would turn around this club and indeed he has done this! As a player, Paul Reddy comes from a soccer rich background and as an individual he has character, grit and a desire to win. He played with Brother Rice and was a winner at the high school level. He was a player with the Holy Cross team that won seven Provincial Challenge Cup titles in the 1980's. Furthermore, Paul Reddy played on the 1988 Holy Cross team that won the only National Challenge Cup that was won by Newfoundland. This seasons Holy Cross played St. Lawrence a total of seven times. Only one of the seven games was decided in regulation time, a 3-1 victory by Holy Cross. St. Lawrence won three times in overtime on a golden goal. The remaining three games were decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Game 1 - Surprise

Feildians vs. Mount Pearl: I guess the Mount Pearl squad surprised everyone by winning their first match. They actually defeated the Feildians, a team that everyone and his dog had predicted would beat them. Full credit was given to them. They out hustled, outworked and outscored a more experienced squad for a rewarding 2- 0 victory. On the other side of the coin, the Feildians proved that the figures released by Statistics Canada show that the Newfoundland population is aging. Well, so are the Feildians. Their veterans appeared as if they lacked the speed and intensity required playing at a senior play-off level. Again I question Coach Jim Hamlyn's persistent refusal to partner Craig Edwards with Tommy Dunderdale. In retrospect, the Feildians and Hamlyn may have paid the price.

Game 2 -Injuries play a key

Holy Cross vs. St Lawrence.: The 2002 championship game may very well have been played when the Laurentians played host to Holy Cross on Friday evening. After the Laurentians took a 2- 0 lead at half time, Holy Cross's fitness level and stamina came to the forefront in the second half, and they scored twice for a 2-2 regulation draw. In overtime, as of a result of Richard Kelly's offensive prowess, it was his corner kick that left the boy's from the city to fall short. With two minutes remaining, Paul J Slaney scored a golden goal. Although, I am a big time supporter of Richard Kelly, the best goal scorer in Newfoundland soccer today, it is high time that Richard, now 21 years of age, starts showing more respect to game officials and to his opponents. Undisciplinary play at a national level just won't be tolerated. The season ending injuries to All - star Chad Parsons and Cormac Meagher in this contest, plus the back injury sustained to Cullen Hendra during the regular season, may very well have spelled the end for Holy Cross.
Certainly, after this game the strength of the Holy Cross back line would rest with number 4, Mark Flemming.

Game 3 - Knowing how to win

Mount Pearl vs. Holy Cross: In this game, Mount Pearl had an opportunity to gain a little respect. It had become quite obvious that Holy Cross were hurting, dejected and bewildered after losing a heart breaker to the Laurentians in their opening game But no way!! The Mount Pearl team just couldn't take advantage. Their club just doesn’t have a winning tradition or know what it takes to win. Simply put, they lack the eye of a tiger and they lost the game by a 2 -0 score. I guess Mount Pearl's head coach Walt Mavin can now concentrate on Memorials Ladybird Sea- Hawks.

Game 4 - Championship Game

Holy Cross vs. St. Lawrence: What more could a true soccer fan ask for than a provincial final where the top two teams in the province meet in a one game winner-take-all final? Well, that’s what we had. The records and stats are there to prove it. The NLSA head official Kevin Pittman appointed Newfoundland's top referee Robbie Antle as the man in the middle for the contest. The championship game itself may have been somewhat anti-climatic to say the least. Besides the importance, and indeed the value of the outcome of the game, this game was far from a masterpiece. The Laurentians out shot the visitors by a wide 11 - 1 margin but failed to capitalize on an any of their five quality scoring opportunities during the first half. The star of the first half was Holy Cross’s goalkeeper Andrew Sears. The second period saw Holy Cross a little more spirited in the early showings but a lack of ball control, passing skills and overall poor play dominated the remainder of regulation time. It appeared that the three games and the injuries to the Holy Cross team had done them in. St. Lawrence's tentative play may have been contributed to the fact that they were uptight. They realized a loss would eliminate them from competing at the Nationals in St. John’s.

Rudy Norman - Game Hero

In overtime came the hero of the game, Rudy Norman. Rudy scored a classic goal with two minutes remaining enabling the Laurentians to become provincial champions and the Laurentians fans to go mad. This man should have been automatically named the MVP of the game. Congratulations are certainly in order to the St. Lawrence Soccer Association, their coaching staff; Jr. Edwards, Greg Quirke, Hubert Beck and all of the Laurentians players. Laurentians, enjoy the moment!