Coach's Corner

2007 Labour Day Weekend wrap up

Southern Gazette Sept. 11. 2007

By Gord Dunphy

gorddunphy@email.com


2007 Labour Day Weekend wrap up

The provincial Senior Men’s Challenge Cup Tournament was played in St. Lawrence on Labour Day weekend. Here’s an evaluation of how I saw each team perform:

Feildians Ernst & Young Orenda:

In Feildians’ opening game against Holy Cross, Feildians fell behind early and the goals came rather fast and furious for Holy Cross. Actually, they showed very little emotion, desire, or even skill for that matter, to compete at the Challenge Cup playoff competition level.

Coach’s Corner Comments: Although Feildians’ performance in this tournament was sub par, maybe that’s the best one should expect from this team. Feildians lack of quality players and quality goal scorers showed big time. If the Feildians are going to compete in a second round or during a playoff schedule, they must recruit more quality players during the off-season.

Holy Cross/The Keg:

In their opening game against Feildians, Holy Cross went on the attack early by scoring two goals in the opening period. Zack Wade started the scoring, scoring at the 27 and again at the 29 minute mark. Holy Cross scored again in the second period at the 55-minute mark and they totally dominated Feildians for the remainder of the contest.

In this contest Holy Cross showed Feildians they were no match, winning the game by a final 3-0 score. This victory moved Holy Cross into the semi-finals. In the Holy Cross semi-final match, they played Mount Pearl. In this contest Holy Cross played with very little desire to win. They allowed two first period goals and went down 3-0 before their scoring ace, Jon Hawco broke the Mount Pearl’s shutout at the 71-minute mark.

Coach’s Corner Comments: Holy Cross’s playoff performances in the semi finals was shameful. Their coaches ‘Fox’ Reddy and Jake Stanford gave it their all and appeared to walk away from this tournament in disgust. Holy Cross teams over the years have built a solid soccer reputation, playing with heart and displaying character, and as a result they have gained a lot of respect. There was no heart or character shown by this squad in the semi-final game.

Mount Pearl/That Pro Look/Molson:

Mount Pearl had a super tournament. In its opening game against St. Lawrence, Mount Pearl gave the Laurentians everything they could handle. They battled through this contest on even grounds all the way. In the first period they fought the Laurentians to a 2-2 score. In the second period, they evened the score at the 80-minute mark for a 3-3 tie. Next, they battled St. Lawrence for another 30 minutes of overtime.

In the end they finally lost to the Laurentians on penalty shots in a contest that certainly could have gone either way. But the most significant happening of things to come was a yellow card picked up by all-star Justin Pickford.

In Mount Pearl’s second game, the semi final contest against Holy Cross, it was Justin Pickford who stole the show, leading Mount Pearl by scoring two goals in a 3-1 victory. He scored at the 16 and 28-minute marks. Although it was Justin’s goals, which lead his team into the finals, the story of this match was not Pickford’s scoring ability, but rather his second yellow card that would result in him being suspended for the Challenge Cup Final.

Next came Game 3: Mount Pearl in the Championship Game went down at the seven minute and at the 84-minute mark by a 2-0 lead. But at the 88-minute mark, Will Hearn, whom I feel was Mount Pearl’s MVP in the contest, scored and for the remaining minutes Mount Pearl pressed and did everything but tie this contest.

Coach’s Corner Comments: Mount Pearl’s performance in this tournament gained the respect of the soccer community in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. If Mount Pearl continues to display the same desire to win that I’ve witnessed, their determination to win will never be questioned again. Every Mount Pearl player that donned the gold and black colors on Labour Day Weekend played with heart. Mount Pearl’s number one goaltender Gerald Connolly was superb, as was the coaching staff of this team, lead by Coach Walt Mavin. Despite the outcome, Mount Pearl had a excellent tournament.

St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians:

There is no doubt the Laurentians, in Game 1, wanted to defeat Mount Pearl and advance directly to the final. They did this, but it sure wasn’t easy. The Laurentians were challenged. They were battled. They were bruised. But in the end, it was the Laurentians finding yet another way to win.

This time it was the spectacular play of Ryan Slaney and Richard Kelly during regulation time, and then in the end came the miraculous goaltending of John Douglas on the penalty shot shootouts. This combination of talent gave St. Lawrence success, and led them to victory and a berth into the Provincial Finals.

In the championship match, St. Lawrence played host to Mount Pearl. It was the Laurentians who proved they have the best team in Newfoundland and Labrador. In this game I must give credit to Derek Strang. Coach Strang of St. Lawrence did start the league’s best player Clinton Edwards at sweeper, and he reinstated Ryan Slaney back into his most valuable position in midfield.

In the early goings St. Lawrence controlled Mount Pearl. They opened the scoring at the seven-minute mark on a beautiful goal by Johnny Pickett. The Laurentians looked to be dynamite for the first 25 minutes. But for the rest of the contest it was Mount Pearl who pressed, controlling most of the play, but they couldn’t penetrate the defensive shell the Laurentians were engaged in. Still at the 84-minute mark, Adam Loder got deep inside Mount Pearl’s defence and upped the score to a 2-0 lead. Then came the Mount Pearl goal at the 88-minute mark and for the rest of the contest Mount Pearl pressed. In the end, St. Lawrence finally defeated Mount Pearl by a very slim 2-1 margin.

Coach’s Corner Comments: In this tournament, despite St. Lawrence not playing to the best of their ability, one must realize the pressure of playing at home in the ‘Soccer Capital of Canada’ is enormous. One must also give full respect to their opponents, Mount Pearl. However the Laurentians undefeated record this season of 22 wins, 4 ties and 0 losses illustrate Newfoundland and Labrador will be represented by the best soccer club in the province.

I would like to conclude with a quote from Molson representative Karen Brake: “the Big Blue Machine did it again with one of their strongest teams yet.” She was backed up by her son, Jeremy, who literally lives in the Laurentians’ Blue colors.

Dunphy’s Details: Congratulations Boys! Good Luck at the Nationals. See you in Halifax, Nova Scotia in October.

Gord Dunphy is a former Challenge Cup 1990s All-Star coach of the St. Lawrence Laurentians and National Bronze Medallist. He can be reached by e-mail at ‘gorddunphy@email.com’