Coach's Corner

Challenge Cup Forecast

By Gord Dunphy

What's soccer with no Shamrocks or Eagles chasing around a ball? Well, I guess you are aware of Lawn and Burin having to bow out of Challenge Cup Soccer for the 2001 season due to a manpower shortage. This is certainly a sad commentary on the state of soccer on the Burin Peninsula. Maybe it's high time for the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association to start addressing the problems of today and not focus solely on our successes. I definitely feel that a third Challenge Cup Team would be registered on the Burin Peninsula this season if only a compromise could be reached where Canada Games players and elite players in the Under 17 age group could play with a NLSA Provincial Team and their respective club team.

Challenge Cup League Adapts New Format

The present day Commissioner of the Challenge Cup League, Doug Redmond, undoubtedly a man of dignity, honour, and respect, has nothing but positive intentions for the Challenge Cup League. This season the league has implemented a number of changes; the most dramatic change is a new play-off format. The top three teams after the first round go into Tier I for the second round, home and away series of games. The fourth, fifth, and sixth place teams after round one are categorized as Tier II, where again a home and away series is played. The top team in Tier II will join the teams in Tier I and participate in a Provincial Tournament to be played on Labour Day Weekend in St.John's.

After carefully reviewing this format I feel this schedule is excellent. There is obviously a big incentive in placing first or second in the league. The winner of game one on the Labour Day Weekend Tournament goes directly to the Championship Game while the loser will get a second chance when they play the winner of the third and fourth place team. All teams will compete to the bitter end for placing, with the fourth place being the top team of Tier II.

Tier I - Contenders

St.Lawrence Laurentians

The St Lawrence Laurentians will win an unprecedented 7th Consecutive Provincial Challenge Cup Title in 2001. The return of striker Alec Turpin paired with Richard Kelly will give the Laurentians experience, strength, and a skill level that can only be matched at a national level. Midfield, which is comprised of Paul "Manager" Slaney and Paul Slaney (Jerome) will bring such a high distribution level that the strikers and both wing midfielders, Rudy Norman and Chris Canes, will be the beneficiaries. The defence, consisting of sweeper Bob Spearns/Harry Kelly along with the return of Clinton Edwards, Blair Aylward, and Scott Bishop, will have to keep All-Star goalie Keith Jackman and keeper Shane Etchegary alert, because at times they will feel lonely.


Coach Junior Edwards biggest job will be keeping Tommy Kelly, Jason Clarke, Randy Turpin, Robert Kelly, Jamie Loder, Adam Loder, Earl Turpin, and Ryan Slaney along with Andrew Perrot happy. Don't be surprised if the Laurentians have an undefeated season.

Marystown United

Unification and discipline will have to be the main component in Mel Stacey's drive to regain the form that Marystown displayed in 1999. Striker/Midfielder Jeff Warren's leadership and soccer skills paired with Shannon Brushett will display goal scoring at its finest. Midfielders Darrell Stewart, Dion Durdle, Patrick Edwards and Graham Moulton will sporadically assist offensively but be very strong defensively. The fullbacks Craig Edwards, Tony Pickett, David Stewart, and new edition Alden Edwards will solidify this unit. Expect Goaltender Scott Edwards to return to his All-Star form this summer.


Coach Mel Stacey will have to utilize Scott Walsh, Jeremy Taylor, Junior Farrell, and Sheldon Slaney for this team to reach its potential. The end result is nice guys finish last.... Coach Mel Stacey is one heck of a nice guy.

St. John's Feildians

Upbeat Coach Jim Hamlyn will use his core players right down the middle. Centerback Tom Dunderdale and Midfielders Jamie Carew and Ian Osmond will be the focus of the Feildians defensive unit. Striker Gus Richards will be looking for a full time partner now that Matthew Wilkins has joined the Canada Games Team. Wally Issacs and Jay Babstock will contend for this position. Veteran P.J. Power will bring additional experience to the line up. Opportunities will exist for Chad Power, Steve Howell, Jeremy Babstock, Chris Roche, Shannon Tobin, and Boyce Cluett to show that they belong. Goalie Matthew Prim will have the chance to play regularly while Mike Organ and Jason Kelly will compete for backup duty.


A relatively weak league will allow Feildians to beat out Mount Pearl for third place.

Tier II - The Pretenders

Mount Pearl

The only team from my last years "Pretenders" category to survive from the 2000 Challenge Cup Soccer season. Mount Pearl at best could place third but I wouldn't bet on it. They will have equal or better control with ball possession but the end result is they cannot put the ball in the net. Coach Walt Mavin will pair Marcel Pitcher and Patrick Fewer is search of goals. Overrated but skilful Andrew Moyst doesn't have the heart of a champion to be an effective leader. The real team leaders, John Acreman and David Manning, are still a little young to carry a team in a true winning direction. The additions of Dion Legge, Brian Collier, and Mark Mathies will help Mount Pearl contend. Goaltender Scott Coady is adequate but with the return of goalie Darryl Robinson, a young man whom I remember from the 1993 Canada Games Men's Team. If he returns to old form he could turn some heads.


A good young team but not good enough. This team lacks veteran winners.

St. John's Holy Cross

Since Holy Cross' glory days when they were using Brother Rice as their feeder system, they have lacked identity. The only thing synonymous with this team now compared to Holy Cross teams of the past are coaches Paul Mullett and Fred "Butch" Reddy.
Goalie/Player Vince McDougall is a better keeper than starting goaltender Andrew Sears. Holy Cross should forget about the Jimmy Fleming's of the soccer world and concentrate on players who show interest. Holy Cross forwards Jake Stanford and Mike Kirby are out of shape and ineffective. J.B. Del Rizzo hasn't played a year in total out of the last four seasons. Bona fide soccer players Shane Antle, Trent McClellan, Darryl Whelan, Chad Parsons, and Jerry Lacey better be prepared for a long season.


A team and an organization on a course for destruction since the mid 90's, and will continue this way unless a new attitude prevails.

Corner Brook Western United

If it weren't for the Sweetapples of Corner Brook, this team wouldn't belong in the Challenge Cup League. Coach Doug Sweetapple and son, all-star Centerback Mark, keep this team alive. Due to the travel involved this team will possibly vie for forth place because opponents traveling shorthanded to Corner Brook. Goalie Graham Evenden will indisputably see black and white all year. Fullbacks Mark Sweetapple, Gary Matthews, Mike Jones and Neil Jones will try and stop the assault. Midfielders Cory Rideout, Clarence Bennett, along with Colin Lynch and Sean Jenkins, will try to feed forwards Bruce Miller and Steven Vardy up front.


Despite a relatively weak selection of Challenge Cup players, this team will contend with Feildians, Mount Pearl and Holy Cross.