Double Blues face tough task to unseat defending champions
Feildians’ Jen Murphy (left) and Lauren Windsor of Mount Pearl tangle during Breen’s Jubilee soccer semifinal play at King George V Park Thursday. Feildians won and will play Holy Cross in today’s final. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Is Feildians Facey Financial Planning’s belief in themselves enough to stop the Holy Cross Kirby Group juggernaut today?
If the underdog Double Blues beat the Crusaders in this afternoon’s Jubilee Trophy final, it would probably rate as the biggest upset in provincial senior women’s soccer history.
And while freely acknowledging they aren’t the favourites — by a long shot — Feildians aren’t about to concede defeat before the championship match is played.
The top two teams in the league clash 3 p.m. today at King George V Park in the championship game.
First-place Holy Cross, the defending champions, lost only one of 21 games this season, but that happened to come against the second-place Feildians, who finished with a 12-6-3 record, 21 points behind the Crusaders.
“I feel you’ve got to have it in your heart if we all want to come through and win it,” says Tara Andrews, whose goal in Thursday night’s semifinal against Mount Pearl sent Feildians into today’s game.
Andrews said the main thing for her team to do is keep up a close-quarters defence. Give it all we’ve got (and) no backing down,” she added.
She said she doesn’t mind being termed the underdog.
“It makes it all that more exciting for everyone,” she said with a smile.
We’ve been training hard and, if we want it bad enough, we can definitely do it,” said Andrews.
Coach Jamie Roche pointed out, “We’ve played them hard all season and I think we’re going to give them a good run.”
Roche said his players “stay committed” and communicate on the field.
“There are a lot of people who’ve already given the the trophy,” said Roche.
“They went 20-1, so they deserve to be the favourites. But the regular season means nothing now. It’s down to one game.
“All we have to do is have a good game. I don’t think it’s as big a deal as some make it out to be. We’ve got the players to do it.
“If you look at the games (in which Holy Cross has) beaten us this season, most of the goals have come in the last 20 minutes, so we’ve got to be mentally prepared for a full 90-minute game and play with discipline.”
That doesn’t mean he is taking the high-scoring Crusaders for granted in any way.
“They’ve got a lot of big guns up front, but we’ve got a very defensive-minded team and that’s an area we play well against them. And our keeper (Leslie Bradshaw) is the best in the league.
“If we stay committed and get a quick transition … that’s where we can really turn things around. Our team matches up well against Kirby and we’re pretty confident in ourselves.”
Feildians fine centreback Nicola Facey said it doesn’t bother her to be considered the decided underdog going into the final.
In fact, she said, it takes a lot of pressure off the team.
“We’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“The final was something we worked toward the entire season and the chance to knock the top-seeded team off their throne,” said Facey.
Facey says the Feildians backline takes a lot of satisfaction in the way it has played all season.
“We do have a strong defensive line and we’ve tried to tighten it up in the midfield, but we’re good at picking up the garbage that gets through.
“They’ve (Holy Cross) got a very strong offence and great touch on the ball, but we’re prepared for the challenge,” said Facey, a semifinal standout who looked cool and composed throughout Thursday’s semifinal.
It’s likely Facey, as well as her teammates, will need a full measure of composure today.