The 2002 Gold Rush !!!
The Newfoundland Soccer Association
was originally formed in 1950, and since 1967 the St. Lawrence Laurentians
have been panning for gold. National Challenge Cup records show specific
provinces where gold has been found but not a nugget of gold has been found
by the St. Lawrence Laurentians.
Former National Champions
In 1988, Holy Cross of St. John's
won the only National Challenge Cup Championship title ever won by a Newfoundland
entry. In fact, only three Newfoundland soccer teams have ever won national
titles. The other two are the Memorial University Team of 1970 and a Provincial
Under 18 all star team won the Canadian Championship in 1974.
Silver & Bronze
During the 1970's, the "Team of
the Decade" and former Laurentians coach, Jack Simms found an ounce of
silver on two occasions, in 1975 and 1977.The present day Laurentians have
viewed where the gold was found in last seven years. In 1999 the Laurentians
won a bronze medal in Chilliwack, British Columbia.
In 2002, the country's most coveted
prize won't come easy. The schedule for the National Challenge Cup has
been changed and a new design has been adopted. The new format calls for
four divisions. Newfoundland, represented by the Laurentians is seeded
10th. This seeding in done in accordance with the Laurentians 10th place
finish at the 2001 Nationals. Also combined with the Laurentians are number
two seed British Columbia, and the number seven seed Quebec.
Newfoundland has only played host
to the National Men's Senior Championships twice. If the 2002 Laurentians
are to follow the footsteps of these two previous Newfoundland teams, they
will have big shoes to fill. In 1977 when the Laurentians played host to
the National finals in St. Lawrence, the Laurentians team came up second
best in Canada, losing out to British Columbia by a slight 1 - 0 score
and winning silver. In 1989, when Holy Cross represented Newfoundland in
a tournament hosted in St John's, the host team again fell short in the
National final losing out by a 3 - 2 score to the Ontario representatives.
Holy Cross won silver.
Game One - B.C. vs. Nfld
The Laurentians opening game will
be on Thursday, October 10, 2002 against British Columbia. Representing
B.C. for the second straight year is Victoria Gorge. The Gorge Soccer Association
represents a total of over 1,000 active people, including directors, managers,
coaches and players. Since 1960, this association has continued to grow
from one senior team and seven youth teams, to today's twelve senior teams
and fifty-three youth teams. Last year this club defeated the Laurentians
by a mere 1 - 0 margin. This score was certainly very respectable and the
Laurentians were extremely competitive. The only catch is, "will B.C. be
more impressive playing the Laurentians outdoors this year?" Last year's
British Columbia vs. Newfoundland match had to be played in an indoor facility
due to the weather and field playing conditions. Yet again, this season
Victoria's scoring punch will come from team MVP Danny White, Brent Garraway
and Dave Ravenhill. This squad has brought in a number of new additions
and were last year's national silver medallists. This year they are coming
to Newfoundland to bring home gold, but the Laurentians will have no part
in supporting British Columbia's cause.
The Laurentians will demonstrate
a bushel of guts and determination and defeat British Columbia. Shock waves
will be felt right across the country as Laurentians fans hit George Street
Game Two - Quebec vs. Nfld.
On Friday, October 11th Quebec,
represented by Panellinios, will face Newfoundland, the host entry. This
club resulted from a fusion of four clubs, Hermes, Hellenic, PEYO and Omni.
This Panellinios club is based in an area of Montreal, which is declared
by Statistics Canada as one of the poorest areas of Canada. Although this
team may be Greek by nature, their line-up verifies they are very proud
to be Canadian. Their goalkeeper Daniel Courtois has played pro with Supra
and Impact of Montreal, while their backup keeper played semi-pro with
Laval Dynamites. Special attention must be given to John Limiatis and Aris
Salonica. Limiatis has played for Canada's National team while Salonica
has played at the Greece first Division level for 5 years, plus having
played for the Supra and Impact of Montreal. The Laurentians big break
may be that Panellinios MVP, Chris Statchopoulos, a former professional
in El Salvador and a National Team Canada U-20 player has recently moved
and signed on with Cleveland Crunch, a professional indoor soccer team
in USA. Statchopoulos was also the MVP of Quebec Soccer.
Although, this is the Panellinios
first visit to National Challenge Cup competition, they will take the Laurentians
to the limit. The Laurentians, after losing last year to Quebec's Lac St.
Louis Lakers by a 1-0 margin, will have to use their experience and exploit
the Panellinios' national inexperience. The end result you will see is
the Laurentians narrowly squeeze by the Quebec representatives.
Game Three & Four
Who the Laurentians play in game
three and four will be determined by their placing in their division. Should
the St. Lawrence Laurentians come through on my predictions and finish
1st, they will at worst compete for a 1st - 4th place finish. Should the
Laurentians come second in their division they will compete for 5th - 8th
place national ranking. The worst case scenario would happen if the Laurentians
finished last in their division. The schedule would force them to play
game three and four for a 9th or 10th place finish.
I have no doubt that each and
every Laurentians player, when given the opportunity to perform will put
in a "gold medal" effort and the rest of the province and the country will
observe that - St. Lawrence really is "The Soccer Capital of Canada."
Our 19 year old daughter Lori
will be participating in the opening ceremonies at the Challenge Cup/Jubilee
Shield National Championship in St. John's. Lori was crowned "Miss Newfoundland
and Labrador" on Sept. 24, 2002. Lori's hopes to wittness the St Lawrence
Laurentins being crowned," National Challenge Cup Champions."