Matt Breen said he wasn’t thinking about anything when he stepped up and slotted the penalty kick that gave Holy Cross Kirby Group a 2-1 win over Mount Pearl That Pro Look/Molson in the Molson Challenge Cup final decided by a shootout at King George V Park Sunday.
An estimated 2,700 spectators were on the edge of their seats as the teams exchanged penalties after playing to a 1-1 overtime draw.
Holy Cross outscored Mount Pearl 4-3 in the shootout to earn a third straight provincial senior soccer title and the right to represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the national championship next month in Quebec.
“I was nervous,” admitted Breen who, after beating Mount Pearl goalkeeper Vince MacDougall, whipped off his jersey and ran toward Holy Cross supporters as his jubilant teammates chased after him.
“We put in too much work to lose it this way (penalty shootout),” added Breen with a smile.
“Oh, what a feeling.”
Holy Cross ’keeper John Douglas, like MacDougall, was outstanding in the classic contest between two evenly-matched squads and he was anything but nervous in the shootout.
“I like penalties,” said Douglas, who is also known for roaming at times.
One of his better saves in the game came against Mount Pearl’s Rudy Norman four minutes before the end of regulation time when he ran well out of his goal and made a sliding stop.
“I’ve been thinking the past two weeks about it,” Douglas said about a possible penalty-kick situation.
Holy Cross had a great chance to end the game just before the final whistle, but Zack Wade’s header went inches wide of the net.
Mount Pearl’s Shawn Manning, who came off the bench, looked to have scored the winner two minutes into overtime, sending the ball into the goal with a stunning shot that gave Douglas no chance to save.
However, there is no golden goal in the Challenge Cup final, and Holy Cross, which had been finding it difficult to penetrate the Mount Pearl defence, got its own overtime goal by standout Ryan Yetman, with about 13 minutes left in the extra session and moments after a Mount Pearl defender had knocked a ball off the goal line.
Yetman got his head on the ball from a corner kick and put it past MacDougall.
The modest Yetman, named the playoff MVP, blamed himself for the Mount Pearl marker.
“That was my fault,” said Yetman who added his teammates “picked up my spirits after that.
“We knew we had to keep plugging and we did,” said Yetman, who called the victory “very special to me.”
Yetman said his team had to play well because Mount Pearl “didn’t leave us much choice. They played a fantastic game. That’s the best game I ever played against Mount Pearl.”
Holy Cross coach Jake Stanford said his team faced “a bit of adversity down the stretch,” including the loss of Mike Brushett in Friday’s 1-0 semifinal win over Feildians.
“We were a bit deflated despite (the semifinal win). We were a little too complacent, but credit Feildians for their effort,” said Stanford.
The Holy Cross coach said he wasn’t surprised at the closeness the final, superbly officiated by Mike Edmunds.
“When you get to the playoffs you seldom see blowouts,” said Stanford.
“Mount Pearl played us tough all season and it took everything we had to win.
“I think the maturity level of our leaders certainly helped, especially in the second half and overtime.”
Mount Pearl, which finished second behind Holy Cross in the regular-season standings, advanced to the final with a 3-1 overtime win over the St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians Friday night.
Kevin Oram, who played brilliantly on the Mount Pearl backline, was a little angry and too distraught to talk after the match.
When approached by this reporter, Oram, whose missed attempt in the shootout opened the door for the Holy Cross winner on the very next kick, said sharply: “No b’y, get that (tape recorder) out of my face. I’m not joking.
“Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude,” Oram added, “but honestly, get out of here…seriously.”
Championship game (Sunday)
Holy Cross 2, Mount Pearl 1 ( shootout)
Sean Manning, Mount Pearl 92 minutes
Ryan Yetman, Holy Cross, 107 minutes
Shootout (Holy Cross won 4-3)
Holy Cross — Zack Wade, Mike Dunn, Scott Woodfine, Matt Breen; Mount Pearl— Rudy Norman, Shawn Manning, Brett Lepore
Holy Cross 1, Feildians Ernst & Young Orenda 0
GS: Holy Cross — John Hawco
SO: John Douglas
Mount Pearl 3, St. Lawrence 1 (OT)
GS: Mount Pearl — Justin Pickford (2); Kevin Oram;
St. Lawrence — Sean Edwards
Molson Challenge Cup Awards
Bobby Breen Memorial Award: (First place, regular season), Holy Cross
Ed Moyst Rookie of Year Award: Mike Dunn, Holy Cross
Jim Goff Most Spirited Player Award: Justin Pickford, Mount Pearl
“We put in too much work to lose it this way (penalty shootout). Oh, what a feeling.” - Matt Breen
Jeff Babstock Top Defender Award: Clinton Edwards, St. Lawrence
Wils Molloy Golden Boot Award: (Most goals), Jon Hawco, Holy Cross (16 goals)
Dick Power Memorial Award (MVP regular season): Jon Hawco, Holy Cross
Gerard Quirke Memorial Award: (MVP of Challenge Cup championship game) Ryan Yetman, Holy Cross
2011 Molson Challenge Cup All- Star Team
Goalkeeper: Chris Hayes, CB Auto Strikers
Defenders: Clinton Edwards, St. Lawrence; Chris Pope, Holy Cross; Jon Kelly, Mount Pearl; Jeff Slaney, St. Lawrence
Midfield: Ryan Yetman, Holy Cross; Rudy Norman, Mount Pearl; Jon Hawco, Holy Cross; Jake Warren, Holy Cross
Forwards: Justin Pickford, Mount Pearl; Jay Babstock, Feildians
Alphonse Warren Memorial Award (All-star coach): Jake Stanford, Holy Cross