2003 Mid-Season Report
**Note: This article was written on July 31, 2003 and published on August 5, 2003
Although the regular first round of play hasn't yet completed, already Mount Pearl, St. Lawrence and Corner Brook have advanced to Tier 1. Feildians, Holy Cross and Marystown have been relegated to Tier 2. At this time, I will give you a mid-season report.
Tier 1- The Contenders
Mount Pearl: Games
Played -12; Wins -10; Losses -1; Ties -1; Points - 32
Finally after years of promise, in 2003, Mount Pearl have become of age and are for real. Offensively, strikers Jeff Walsh, Alec Turpin, Ryan Caines, and Patrick Fewer have been so explosive their opponents can't defend against them. Added offensive play and speed has come from mid-fielders Rob Carter, Will Hearn and Sean Manning. Defensively, John Acreman and Mark Reddy have been the best one-two punch in the league. Goalkeeper Gerald Connolly may not be extremely polished but he is very effective. Simply put, he's a ball stopper who seldom allows a bad goal.
Coach?s Corner Comments: Mount Pearl has shown that they have the tools and are a team that could be crowned provincial champions in 2003. Mount Pearl's present point production should lead them to a first place finish and the clinching of the "Bobby Breen Memorial Trophy." Now it's time for veteran Coach Walt Mavin to prove to himself and his critics that he has the talents of a coach to produce such a winner.
Round two prediction - Mount Pearl to finish - 1st
St. Lawrence: Games
Played -12; Wins - 8; Losses -3; Ties -1; Points - 26
In general, the Laurentians of 2003 have struggled. Can you believe young speedster Ryan Drake, who has contributed 4 goals, presently leads the Laurentians in goal scoring? It's unreal that Richard Kelly and Rudy Norman both have only 3 goals each. Certainly I realize, with the exception of all-star Andrew Perrott, the Laurentians mid-field of 2003 have struggled. Paul Slaney has been injured, Chris Caines is just not with it, and now Jeff Warren, at 35 years of age, has shown that his greatest opponent is his lack of speed. Now that Paul Slaney (Manager) has returned and solidified the defence unit which consists of Clinton Edwards, Robert Kelly and Blair Aylward, defensively they are solid. Goalkeepers John Douglas and N. J. Edwards have been adequate.
Coach's Corner Comments: I can't understand why the Laurentians soccer Coach Junior Edwards, keeps carrying a 22-24 man roster. What is his rational behind this? First of all, only 18 players can be put on any game sheet and only 20 players can be registered for the nationals. The only time I see a number of the younger players on the field is at half time, that's during intermission. Rumours keep persisting that before the summer is over you will also see Scott Bishop and Bob Spearns wearing the Laurentians Blue, something I predicted right from the beginning.
Round two prediction - St. Lawrence to finish - 2nd
Corner Brook: Games
Played -13; Wins -8; Losses -3; Ties -3; Points - 26
I think I will finally admit Corner Brook is on par with the rest of the province in Challenge Cup soccer. Offensively, Mike Wall, Kevin Oram and Bruce Miller have led the Western United squad. Certainly Clarence Bennett, Corey Rideout, Ian Duffitt and Colin Lynch can match up with any of the other teams in midfield. Defensively, Vinny MacDougall can solidify and lead this unit but there's no way, despite their record, I'm convinced about their goaltending. Maybe I'll get a better judgement on this team and their goaltending in the second round of play. Coach's Corner Comments: Rather than feel that Corner Brook is progressing in soccer, I feel the rest of the clubs are moving backwards. To date, although Corner Brook has 8 victories, I realize that they have only one road victory and that was against lowly ranked Marystown. I also realize that Corner Brook are supporting a 7 win, 1 tie record with 0 looses at home. Round two prediction - Corner Brook to finish - 3rd
Tier 2 - The Pretenders
Holy Cross: Games
Played-12; Wins -2; Loses -7; Ties -4; Points - 11
Holy Cross of 2003, what a disappointment ! Looking at this team statistically, they are terrible. Offensively they are non existent! In 12 games they have only accounted for a total of 11 goals, the lowest number in the league. Striker Mike Kirby and midfielder Trent McLellan have both scored 2 goals each. Last year, Jay Babstock scored 8 goals but this season he has just 1. Obviously, the loss of player Cormac Meager and his 6 goals from 2002 has hurt. Although I feel Shane Antle is a quality mid-fielder, his 0 goals this year doesn't help me much when I try and promote his status. Defensively, Chad Parsons, Mark Flemming, Sean Connolly, and Jeremy Babstock are sound. Perhaps the greatest loss that Holy Cross encountered this season was the loss of goalkeeper, Andrew Sears. To add to the teams offensive woe's, Holy Cross hasn't received quality goalkeeping in 2003.
Coach's Corner Comments: Player frustration, and lack of discipline displayed by Coach Paul Reddy, is a major reason why Holy Cross' record this season is terrible. No doubt, Coach Reddy is a quality individual, but his own lack of self discipline behind the bench has caused him suspensions, generated team turmoil and in turn, the same thing has happened to a number of his players. Despite all of this, I think Holy Cross could be a half-decent team and are a lot better team than their present record indicates.
To rejuvenate this club in Round 2, Coach Reddy must show more than hard work, he must show leadership.
Round two prediction - Holy Cross to finish - 1st.
Played -13;Wins -3; Losses -6; Ties -3; Points - 16
In 2003 when the Fielding couldn't find a full time bench coach, this team struggled to find themselves. Offensively, Matthew Wilkins has contributed just 3 goals. Although Matthew has great speed, he still lacks good soccer sense. His partner, Justin Arnott has accounted for only 2 goals. Chris Roche, playing from the midfield, leads the Feildians goal scoring, accounting for 4 goals. The defence led by veteran Gussy Richards and young and promising Stephen Croft, more often than not, verifies that Matthew Prim is the leagues top goalie.
Coach's Corner Comments: P.J. Power and Gussy Richards must be commended on taking on the coaching duties but obviously player/coach just doesn't work. In order for Feidians to compete in the second round, they should try and recruit Patty Kennedy to perform their coaching duties for the remainder of the season.
Round two prediction -Feildians to finish - 2nd
Played -14; Wins -2; Losses -11; Ties -1; Points - 7
In what one would consider a relatively weak league, when you end in last place, I think that says it all. When Vince and Jeremy Taylor became at odds and subsequently Jeremy got suspended, any chances Marystown had in competing in 2003 were over. Yes, Darrell Stewart has scored 6 goals but overall this team presents very little scoring threat. Young 16 year old Siam Grobler has shown promise. David Stewart, Howie Drake, Colin Power, Marc Coady and Dion Durdle have shown signs of dissatisfaction and frustration. Overall, goalkeeper Scott Edwards should be commended for sticking with the cause.
Coach's Corner Comments: A somewhat weak team that carries
5 quality soccer players, 2-3 very good sprinters and 8-10 intermediate players.
Round two prediction - Marystown to finish - 3rd
Gord Dunphy is a former Challenge Cup 1990's All - Star coach of the St. Lawrence Laurentians and National Bronze Medallist. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or www.coaches-corner.net