Marystown United will be competing in the National Challenge Cup competition in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island from October 6 -10, 2004. At this time I will take a look at the National Seeding. Then I will assess the competition that Marystown will be up against in this National tournament. The 2004 national seeding assigns the various clubs into two groups. The grouping is done according to last years placing by the various clubs that represented their province in 2003. Example: Newfoundland and Labrador is seeded 10th because Mount Pearl placed 10th in 2003.
1. Alberta 2.Quebec 3.British Columbia 4.Manitoba 5.Prince Edward Island 6. Nova Scotia 7.New Brunswick 8.Saskatchewan 9.Ontario 10 Newfoundland & Labrador
Group 1 will be comprised of the following clubs:
1. Calgary Callies (AB)
4. Lucania (MB)
5. Velvet Underground Breakers (PEI)
8. Saskatoon Arsenal (SK)
9. Ottawa Royals (ON)
Group 2 will be comprised of the following clubs:
2. Panellinios (QC)
3. Pegasus (BC)
6. Halifax Celtic (NS)
7. Fundy Labatt United (NB)
10. Marystown United (NL)
Marystown United will play their first game with Quebec against the mighty Panellinios team. The club was founded in 1996 and is a result of the amalgamation of the five soccer clubs of the area: the Canadian Hellenic Soccer Club, Hermes Club, PEYO Soccer Division, OMNI Soccer Club, and the Hellas Soccer Club. For those who had the privilege of watching this team play in St. John’s in 2002, they are dynamite. The club has had numerous team successes and in the process has developed many young stars that have either gone on to get university degrees on athletic scholarships or have pursued professional soccer careers. One of the youngest players, 18 year old Taty Matondo was nominated as a member of the Canadian Olympic team (U-23). Two of their players, Antonio Ribriro and Taty Matondo have earned full professional soccer careers with the Montreal Impact (the A-League). Each summer they welcome back Chris Stathopoulos into their ranks. Chris is an all-star player who every winter plays with the Cleveland Force of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) and was a member of the Canadian Olympic National team for several years. John Limniatis is at the end of a brilliant career of being the captain for the Canadian National team, spending 8 years playing Division I in Greece, and being the captain of the Montreal Impact for the last 7 years
This game could prove to be no contest. Panellinios were the silver medallist in 2003 and are certainly one of the favourites in 2004.
Marystown United will play the Halifax Celtic representing Nova Scotia in their second game. The Celtic squad had a very similar season to Marystown. They finished third in the regular season, but first when it counted. The Celtics finished the regular season with the fewest goals against, recording 11 shutouts in the process. They added two shutouts during their playoff victories. The Halifax Celtics defended their Nova Scotia senior men's soccer title in the championship contest in convincing fashion, dismantling Halifax Athens 3-0. Listed on the Celtic roster are Mark Sweetapple of Corner Brook and Wayne Francis of Burin. Three of the teams star players are; Carle Esminge who played youth soccer in British Columbia before going to England at age 18 to try to play professional. He eventually played semi-pro in the midland combination league. He returned to Canada in 1998 to where he played for the Dalhousie varsity men's soccer team from 1998 to 2003, serving as c aptain for the last two years. Celtic’s striker, Kristin Kirincich, Academic all Canadian, won three scoring titles with St. Francis Xavier, was an AUS all-star and was recognized as their MVP. Ian Van Zooshas, has been a member of Halifax Celtic from 1998-2003 and he played with the Victoria Gorge Soccer Club of British Columbia during the 2003-2004 season. He was a member of Dalhousie University Men’s Soccer Team and was awarded AUAA Finals MVP in 1999-2000.
Halifax Celtic’s could be the spoiler in this group. Their 13-shutout victories during the year demonstrate that they play a very impressive defensive system, which will give them the edge in this contest.
I watched this Celtic team performs at the nationals in Quebec City in 2003 and they placed a very respectable 6th place. It will be very interesting to watch brothers Brian Francis and Wayne Francis of Burin square off against each other in this contest. Brian a member of the United team played for the Celtic’s in 2003 and is presently attending Dalhousie University pursuing a law degree where he is a member of the Tigers men’s soccer team. Wayne is employed as a lawyer with the firm of Cox Hanson O'Reilly Matheson. He was a 3-time AUS all-star and 2 time All-Canadian during his university soccer career at St. Francis Xavier and University of New Brunswick. He played for Dunbrack from 1999-2002, winning a Nova Scotia Provincial championship in 1999.
In game three, Marystown will suit up against Fundy United of St. John, New Brunswick. New Brunswick placed 7th last year and Marystown should get psyched up for this team because this will a great opportunity for a win in this tournament. Last year I watched Mount Pearl waste a golden opportunity to get a victory when they played New Brunswick by losing to them 3-1. Mount Pearl was certainly capable of defeating New Brunswick in 2003.
This is a must win game for Marystown. Should you have two loses after your first two games, a victory here would give you some respectability and it will would make you eligible to play of for a seventh or eight place seeding. The loser could very well place last in Group 2 and play off with the last place club in Group 1 for a very disappointing ninth or tenth place finish.
The British Columbia Pegasus FC 2004 team is definitely a serious contender for the 2004 National Challenge Cup. British Columbia soccer clubs are always tough and in order for Pegasus FC to advance to this national competition, they had to advance through a very competitive Premier Division of the VMSL. The team has a line-up filled with veterans plus a few energetic youngsters in the starting eleven. Pegasus FC team plays a 3-4-3 system, which allows them to use Randy Celebrini, Stedman Espinosa and Rob Reed as their three top offensive weapons. Their midfield consists of MVP Mike Dodd, Paul Dailly, Nico Berg and Adam Costley. They are apparently very strong at both ends of the fields which allows then to use two midfielders back very deep when the play is in the defensive zone. Their fullbacks Darin Burr, Jamie Fiddler, and Trevor Short have great height, superior physical strength and maintain a super level of fitness. Pegasus FC star goalie is Steve London
Marystown will have their hands full in this contest and a Marystown victory won’t come easy. This past season Pegasus FC won it’s first ever Imperial Cup and the Provincial Cup. In the 38th year history of Newfoundland and Labrador’s entry into Challenge Cup, Newfoundland and Labrador has only managed one victory over British Columbia in National Challenge Cup Competition. That victory came in 2002 when the Laurentians defeated British Columbia in St. John’s.
Yes it’s great to have those Aero plan travel points! For the second year in a row, I will take my annual vacation and use my travel points to attend the National Challenge Cup Championships. Again, this year I will be joining with CHCM’s Russ Murphy’s doing the colour commentary as he does live broadcasting of the games. The Burin Peninsula will also have three representatives at various national club tournaments in 2004.
Judi Kelloway of Burin will be the CSA representative at the Under-16 Championships in Granby, Quebec.
Connie Mercer of Burin will be NLSA representative at the Under-18 Championships in Edmonton, Alberta.
Kevin Pittman of St. Lawrence will be the NLSA representative at the Challenge Cup / Jubilee Trophy Championships in Prince Edward Island.
Gord Dunphy is a former 1990’s Challenge Cup All - Star coach of the St. Lawrence Laurentians and National Bronze Medallist. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com