Feildians face St. Lawrence in one semifinal tonight; host Mount Pearl and defending champ Holy Cross square off in the other
Blaise Peters of Feildians Ernst & Young watches as Jon Kelly (8) of Mount Pearl That Pro Look Molson heads the ball during their Challenge Cup soccer game in Mount Pearl earlier this month. Peters finished the season as the leading scorer for Feildians, who face the St. Lawrence Laurentians in the Challenge Cup semifinal round tonight in Mount Pearl.— Telegram file photo by Joe Gibbons
If Feildians Ernst & Young is to advance to the Molson Challenge Cup provincial soccer final, it will take the sort of teamwork that earned the Double Blues three wins in four games against the St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians during the regular season, according to player-coach John Acreman.
“We think we can compete with any team in the league,” said Acreman, whose team takes on the Laurentians 8:30 tonight at Smallwood Park in Mount Pearl in one semifinal.
The playoffs open at 6:30 p.m., with first-place Holy Cross Kirby Group taking on fourth-place Mount Pearl That Pro Look/Molson.
The winners play 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Mount Pearl for the provincial Challenge Cup crown.
“We’re just competing with the rest of the teams in the league, and we’re doing quite well with it,” said Acreman, “but St. Lawrence is a strong team, too. You work hard and, hopefully, you’ll get rewarded.”
Acreman, a veteran defender still considered to be the heart of the team, said the league has been more competitive than last season.
“All four (playoff) teams are very close and any team could come out with a win (tonight). It’s going to be a battle to say the least,” he said.
As for picking out an individual who has made a big contribution to the club this season, Acreman was quick to point to Blaise Peters, the striker who came to the Double Blues this season from three-time defending champion Holy Cross.
Peters, who had nine goals, good for a tie for fourth place in league scoring, is a finalist for the Jim Goff Memorial award for most spirited player, along with Jake Warren of Holy Cross and Sean Drew of Mount Pearl.
“Peters,” said Acreman, “has done a very good job.”
Backliner Greg Reid has also played well, said Acreman, who added, “Our goalkeeping has been good with David Hickey.
”But Acreman said it isn’t so much the play of individuals as the result of everyone doing their job.
"We’re bunch of players who work hard. We don’t have a bunch of superstars, but we try to lift the load together.”
The Feildians mentor said the team is close and that the players depend on each other, “on and off the field. It’s our biggest attribute."
Despite winning the season series against the Laurentians, the Double Blues finished five points behind second-place St. Lawrence.
But for Acreman, the regular-season — and what happened during it — is nothing more than the front end of a “that was then, this is now” situation.
“We’re focusing on the present. There’s one match to win and that’s all were looking at,” said Acreman.
Asked if he thinks the Laurentians underestimated the Double Blues this season, Acreman replied: “I don’t know. I can’t talk to that, to be honest. We just try to take care of our circumstances. It’s tough enough to deal with that, let alone worry about anyone else.”
Acreman, as expected, wouldn’t discuss the health of individual players heading into the playoffs.
Radio station CHCM (740AM) in Marystown will broadcast all of the playoff games.
Russ Murphy will call the play-by-play for the doubleheader Friday and Sunday’s final, while Rick Farrell will handle the color commentating and Gord Dunphy will provide game analysis.