Coach's Corner

Who's Hot? Who's Not? - 2007

Southern Gazette July 17. 2007

By Gord Dunphy

Who's Hot? Who's Not? - 2007

The players I have listed below fall into the category based on my observations so far this Challenge Cup Season.

St. Lawrence Laurentians

Who’s Hot? – Joe Cecchini (Striker)

At this point in the season, Joe is the league’s best striker. His creative running brings a new element to the league. He never wastes any energy.

He has great vision and his shooting is nearly perfect. He strikes the ball very low and hard, and his shots are always directed on the net, mostly to the corners.

He’s great at using his partner, Richard Kelly or Mike Howlett. He has a bit of a mean streak in him, which is something I love in a good player. Joe has been a great addition to the Laurentians and to the Provincial Challenge Cup League in general.

Who’s Not? – Blair Aylward (Rightwing Back)

There’s no doubt the wear and tear to Blair’s aging body is starting to show this season. Blair, who has a record of 11 Challenge Cup Championships and both a National Silver and Bronze Medal to his credit, has been a very rugged physical player over the course of his career. As a result of his style, he is suffering from injuries this season and consequently his fitness and stamina is not where it needs to be.

This season, Blair’s calibre of play and even his amount of playing time is down from where it has been in previous years. Maybe the time has come for Blair to perform a dual role and be a greater asset to the Laurentians than he has been thus far this season. He should continue on playing when his body allows him to, and he should also become the Laurentians’ assistant coach.

He could directly become responsible for the practising of the team’s 15 players that are presently living in the St. John’s area. After all, the Laurentians of the past traditionally have had an assistant coach, a manager, or both. This season, St. Lawrence has neither.

Mount Pearl/That Pro Look/Molson

Who’s Hot? – John Kelly (Center-Midfield)

I really like what John Kelly brings to the game of soccer. He’s big and strong, has a very powerful set of legs, and for the past few seasons, he plays the game to near perfection. Overall, I feel he’s Mount Pearl’s most dependable and best all-round player.

Kelly is a very versatile player that either plays the midfield or center back position. I feel he best serves Mount Pearl paired up with Victor Dray, playing the center back position.

Who’s Not? - Justin Pickford (Striker)

This kid doesn’t have the same level of energy this season as when he busted on the scene last year. This season, Justin’s goal scoring is way down from his rookie year. He needs to start mixing up his runs and focus on doing some vertical runs.

Also, Justin needs to demonstrate some lateral movement on the ball, rather than always pushing the ball and running straight ahead. Despite these flaws, Justin does have talent but he will need more than just speed and a heavy shot to become a bonafide star. Basically, he requires additional creativity and a better first touch on the ball.

Holy Cross/The Keg

Who’s Hot? – Andre Le (Center back)

Andre has super talent and I feel the best is yet to come from this kid. Actually Andre has brought a sense of steadiness to Holy Cross’s backline. He has super speed, good vision and has great distribution on his ball delivery.

This kid has a brilliant career ahead of him and at this point, he should be a shoe in for ‘Rookie of the Year’ Award.

Who’s Not? – Jon Hawco (Striker)

Hawco does have talent and has scored a number of goals this season, but he’s certainly not playing at the level he’s capable of. Jon is waiting around for things to happen and he gets visibly upset when nothing happens. He needs to get himself more involved and create more space.

He also needs to form a greater cohesiveness and bond with his fellow striker, Corey Moore. Setting up a goal must become just as important to Hawco as scoring one himself, but I’m sure he will overcome this fault once he gains more experience.

Feildians Ernst & Young Orenda

Who’s Hot? – Stephen Croft (Midfield)

Croft is unquestionably a star soccer player but in soccer you can be only as good as the players you are surrounded by. There’s no question the Feildians are an improved squad this season, but I still wouldn’t consider them a very strong team.

This season, Steve has been moved from the backline and is patrolling the midfield and he is doing an admiral job at it. He is digging in, getting his nose dirty, playing well defensively and he’s even contributed offensively.

Who’s Not? – Matthew Wilkins (Striker)

For the amount of talent and speed Wilkins has, he has too few goals. I’ve monitored his style and watched him play very closely this season. He has a great stride and is in full sprint in a matter of seconds. But the main problem I see in his play is he doesn’t know how to play the striker position.

Basically he’s all over the place, from the forwards’ position to the midfield position and, then at times, he’s even back in the fullback’s position. He simply doesn’t know how or where to position himself on the field.

Burin Shooters Eagles

Who’s Hot? – Shannon Brushett (Midfield)

Shannon is the ‘Captain’ of this very young team and despite their slow start, Brushett always gives it his all. He never appears to get frustrated, has a super shot and is super fit. He certainly can score from a dead shot when given the opportunity.

Overall, Brushett plays a very solid game. He’s a great leader playing with a team that is building for the future.

Who’s Not? – Shannon Francis (Midfield)

I just can’t seem to understand what is going on with young Shannon Francis. Two years ago, he was a great young player, showing a lot of potential. He performed well with the Newfoundland and Labrador Canada Games Team and played very well after the completion of Games Tournament when he signed on with the Laurentians. He also performed rather well at the Nationals in Calgary with St. Lawrence.

This season he doesn’t see regular duty and when given the opportunity to step on the field, he show’s very little interest.

Dunphy’s Details: I understand young goalkeeper Josh Miller from St. Lawrence has become a bit frustrated because he wasn’t given a fair shot at making the Laurentians squad this season. Well Josh, I have no doubt you, and young Tristan Slaney, may very well be the St. Lawrence Laurentians’ goalkeepers in the near future and here’s a bit of advice I would like to give you, ‘Hang tough Josh, and stay with the game, son.’

During your career there are times you will get emotionally hurt and become frustrated with the situation but in the end, if you stick with the game, you will become the winner.

I also gave a similar piece of advice to Gerald Connolly (Mount Pearl’s Goalie) back a number of years ago while Gerald was backup keeper with the NL Canada Games Team. Gerald, at that time, had become frustrated with his lack of playing time with the Games Team. Well, it’s obvious Gerald listened to the advice, and as far as I am concerned, Gerald is as good as any goaltender in this province today. Although there are times I don’t always write these kind comments about Gerald or tell them to his mom. Right Maureen?