After the completion of the 2004 National Challenge Cup Soccer Tournament held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Marystown United increased Newfoundland and Labrador seeding by two places and further more, this team gained national respect.
First when I arrived in Charlottetown and browsed around, I met various club officials from different provinces and officials from the Canadian Soccer Association that I had met over the past decade. In general, the questions I encountered most often upon meeting these officials were, “ What happened to the Laurentians this year?” and “could you give me the particulars on this Marystown team ?” At the conclusion of the National Challenge Cup, I feel most of these individuals who had watched Marystown United perform at the Nationals, came to the realization that this club are indeed a quality team and were a very strong, worthy Newfoundland and Labrador representative. I witnessed this as I again had the experience and pleasure of doing the colour commentary with Russ Murphy, who is Manager of CHCM 740 radio station who brought the games live from Prince Edward Island. As a matter of fact, with a few breaks, this team could have improved there seeding and even competed for a medal. The admiration gained by Marystown United was obtained by their performances. Here is a summation and an analysis of each of these five matches.
From the opening whistle Marystown used the talents of their midfield and played with heart and skill. At the 7-minute mark, Panellinios gifted goal scorer Andrew Mallouk eluded the Marystown 3-5-2 system, putting Quebec up 1-0. For the remainder of the first half, Marystown played on par with, and at times outplayed and physically pushed around this very highly ranked skilful team.
The second half was somewhat different. Even though Marystown came out pressing, Quebec quickly started to gain control of the midfield. At the 56-minute mark, speedster Andrew Tsartolias scored, increasing Quebec’s lead to 2-0. The turning point of this game was when Darrell Steward stopped the ball from going over his goal line. At that point, he very well may have prevented a Quebec romp because Marystown were back in their zone on their heels. Shortly after this incident, Mike Wall was clobbered at the 70-minute mark. The Quebec goalie hit Mike in a head on collusion, sending Mike off the field in a daze. A Marystown goal followed this assault at the 78-minute mark, from a head on ball directed by Brian Francis after Johnny Picket had taken an indirect free shot. The goal was a beauty and Marystown gained new life but it was a little too late, because Quebec held off a late blitz by Marystown as they held on to their lead for a final 2-1 victory.
Coach’s Corner Comments: This game was a great game of soccer.
A 2-1 defeat to a highly ranked Quebec entry, who were national silver medallists in 2003 and had opened up the 2004 National Challenge Cup a day earlier with a convincing 5-0 victory over New Brunswick. Marystown’s play automatically brought them credibility and respectability. It was certainly a good team effort displayed by Marystown with their top players being Scott Edwards, Craig Edwards and Vince MacDougall.
Marystown United and their fans came into this game pumped and there was definitely an air of excitement surrounding this contest. When this game began Marystown played with nearly a 40-km wind in its back. This wind eventually caused havoc for their midfield and goalie Scott Edwards. The wind caused trouble for Scott as he was trying to handle the ball, and the Marystown midfield were moving far up the field and weren’t getting any touch on the ball. Before the game was 10 minutes old, the Halifax Celtic had jumped out into a 2-0 goal lead and the buzz of excitement was taken away from the fans and the Marystown players looked frustrated. The remainder of the first half was evenly played.
When the second period commenced, it was obvious that Marystown would need a break or an early goal to get back into this contest. The break they needed and a goal came fairly quickly. Before the second period was 5 minutes old Marystown were awarded a penalty shot. Johnny Pickett made no mistake on this charity kick, making the score 2-1. Marystown then took it to Halifax, controlling the midfield and scoring another goal eight minutes later. The second goal came when the extremely steady Jan Peddle scored on a rebound off a shot taken by the talented Patrick Fewer. That goal made the score 2-2. Somehow Marystown couldn’t maintain their strong level of play, and at the 80 minute mark a complete breakdown by Marystown's midfield and their back line resulted in former Corner Brook’s native Mark Sweetapple scoring for the Nova Scotia’s representative, giving them a 3-2 lead. Only this time, Halifax Celtic were not to relinquish their lead as they forced Marystown to mostly defend for the remainder of the game, and they maintained their one goal difference for a final 3-2 victory.
Coach’s Corner Comments: Another great game of soccer and another great effort displayed by Marystown. Marystown again showed character. This time they overcame an early 2-0 deficit and showed they just weren’t there for the ride. Marystown’s key performers in this contest were: Darrell Stewart, Patrick Fewer and Colin Power.
Both clubs had lost their opening two games and they each felt this was a great opportunity for a victory. As soon as this game began, it was evident that both of these clubs was starving for a win. There was absolutely no focus on defence in this contest. The game was played wide open with Mike Wall running miles, creating numerous scoring opportunities. The New Brunswick team would counter attack every time a Marystown player miscued or the ball was overturned in midfield. It wasn’t until the 40-minute mark that Johnny Pickett scored on a marvellous free shot taken just outside the 18-yard line, which gave Marystown a 1-0 lead. That goal remained the difference between these two provinces despite the countless scoring opportunities by each team for the remainder of the game.
Coach’s Corner Comments: This 1-0 victory gave Marystown their first ever win in National Challenge Cup competition and a very good reason for the fans to party on that Saturday night. No doubt this shut out was mainly due because of Scott Edwards goaltending efforts and his game saving heroics late in the match. The win can also be attributed to the strong work ethic of Mike Wall and the goal scoring talent of all-star Johnny Pickett.
Pegasus FC came into this game undefeated, after edging out Nova Scotia by a 3-2 margin, trouncing New Brunswick 6-1 and routing Quebec by 3-0 score. Their record at this stage had assured them a berth in the gold medal contest. Prior to the game, Coach Dave Fiorvento guaranteed me they wanted a victory here despite the fact not all of their starters were in the starting line up. He emphasized; “we have no intentions of going into the championship game on a losing note.” When the game got under way, Marystown weren’t one bit impressed by British Columbia’s record nor did their size or speed intimidate them. In fact, Marystown embarrassed Pegasus FC for the first half. They out played, out worked and out chanced this highly ranked British Columbia team but unfortunately they just couldn’t finish, and as a result, the first half was scoreless.
When the play resumed in the second half, Marystown quickly went back on the attack. They scored after just three minutes of play, a goal that came from a fine shot taken by Brian Francis. Twenty minutes later David Pickett upped the score to 2-0, scoring on a header. This goal totally humiliated and frustrated the British Columbia club. Just as Marystown looked to have things well under control, very poor marking and metal fatigue changed the whole complexion of the game. British Columbia then went on a scoring rampage, scoring three goals in five minutes (71 minute, 73 minute, and 76 minute) and dominating the remainder of the contest. They increased their lead to a 4-2 margin at the 90-minute mark when Troy Pickett was given a red card for a violation, which occurred, inside of the 18-yard box, and as a result a penalty shot was awarded.
Coach’s Corner Comments: As Yoggi Berra would say, “It ain’t over until it’s over.” A superb 70 minutes of soccer played by Marystown and I’m sure a valuable lesson learned by all the United team. Marystown’s top performers in this contest were Vince MacDougall, Brian Francis and Johnny Pickett.
This contest saw the two fourth place teams in each division playing off for a 7th-8th-place finish. Coming into this game, P.E.I. had managed one victory in their division as well. They had defeated the Alberta representatives, the Calgary Callies, by a 1-0 score. Marystown opened very strong in this game getting an early first period goal from their workhorse, Vince MacDougall, but saw that lead taken away at the 29 minute mark when Carson Gill beat Scott Edwards on 30 yard blooper. The second half saw P.E.I. use their bench much more effectively than Marystown. P.E.I. dominated the second period and they got a second goal at the 65 minute mark from Brett Norton, which held up for the rest of the game as P.E.I. defeated Marystown United by a 2-1 margin and clinched 7th place.
Coach’s Corner Comments: A coaching staff must realize there is a reason you’re permitted to carry 20 players in a tournament - you’ve got to use them! Yes, the effort was there again in this game but most of the players that were left on the field for the entire 90 minutes had nothing else to give after 45 minutes. Overall Marystown had a great tournament, gave it their all and they earned “Respect”.
As president of the St. Lawrence Soccer Association, I would like to thank all members of the present soccer association, the people of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence Town Council for their support this season as we celebrated our “100th Anniversary” in 2004. I would also like to inform all Laurentians that the nearly $18,000. debt that the St. Lawrence Soccer Association inherited in May is now paid off. The $5,000, that we were compelled to borrow from the town in June to start a cash flow, has been totally repaid. The $10,000. that we spent on new capital works in 2004 was Field -$2,000; Don Turpin Broadcasting Booth - $2,000; Sit on Lawn Mower - $2,500; and the repairs and up grading to the Trophy Lounge/ Laurentian Place - $3,500 have been paid in full.
All costs (approx. $25,000) that occurred this past summer to run both the minor and senior soccer program have been paid and at this present time the St. Lawrence Soccer Association have approximately $2,500 in the bank.
Until next season - Keep Kicking!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org