Can the Laurentians of 2008 accomplish what no other former St. Lawrence team has ever done in the history of Challenge Cup Soccer? Of course, Iím talking about winning a National Challenge Cup Championship. Thatís what itís got to be all about this season and no, it wonít be easy, but thatís what the expectations must be.
This is the year that Newfoundland will host the Senior Menís/Womenís National Soccer Championship and expectations are high. Actually, they are very high. Last season, the Laurentians won a National Bronze Medal in Halifax and were impressive in doing so. Now, can St. Lawrence take it to another level? Do they have what it takes mentally and physically?
I realize going from being number three in the country to being the best amateur soccer club in Canada will take a tremendous amount of work and it wonít come easy.
The Laurentians have registered an impressive roster for 2008. First, letís look at the players that are of all-stars status. These include: John Douglas, Clinton Edwards, Marc Pittman, Ryan Slaney, Mike Howlett, Rudy Norman, Paul Slaney and Richard Kelly.
The Laurentiansí remaining core players come from several veterans and a group of notable players which includes: Blair Aylward, Alec Turpin, Andrew Perrott, Joe Cecchini, Sean Edwards, Darren Pike, John Pickett, Adam Loder, Sheldon Slaney, Tristan Slaney, Jeremy Brenton, Andrew Strang, Peter Green and Mike Douglas.
In the meantime St. Lawrence fans can expect to see some young blood incorporated into the Laurentiansí line-up this season. A number of young players will be called upon this season to showcase their stuff as some of the older players are recuperating from injuries or tied up due to work commitments.
This pre 18-year-old group includes: Stefan Slaney, Tyler Beck, James Grant, Clay Roul, Boyd Roul and Tyler Forsey.
St. Lawrence coach Derek Strang, who will be back for his fourth season as head coach, is looking forward to this season. He feels the new players that were added should make for a lot of competition for places, which is what you want as a coach. Strang said ďThis is a big year for all teams in Newfoundland and Labrador and everyone wants to represent our province at home, knowing the support that was there in 2002.
ďThis will be a very competitive year and I donít think there is a favourite as such. We feel we have a strong team again, but so do the other teams in town. It should be a very interesting season for players and fans alike.Ē
The veteran players on the club must add leadership to the team and support Coach Strang in his quest for gold, both on and off the field.
I know the road to victory wonít be easy but in order to achieve success at a very high level, you must aim high. Letís not forget Holy Cross won the National Soccer Championship in 1988, Brad Gushue skipped his Newfoundland Team to Olympic Gold in 2006 and now we have Daniel Cleary winning a Stanley Cup Championship for his efforts.