Big Blue's blueprint for success

John
John Browne
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Laurentians enter national competition full of confidence

Confidence will be a necessary ingredient in the St. Lawrence Laurentians' quest for the national men's soccer championship, according to coach Derek Strang.

Official opening ceremonies for the 2008 BMO Challenge Cup/Jubilee Trophy competition take place 6:30 tonight at King George V Park, followed by the Laurentians' match against Ontario.

Any success the St. Lawrence Laurentians will have in the national Challenge Cup senior men's soccer championship this week will depend very much on the play of (from left) Richard Kelly, Rudy Norman, John Douglas, Mike Howlett and Clinton Edwards. Photo

Confidence will be a necessary ingredient in the St. Lawrence Laurentians' quest for the national men's soccer championship, according to coach Derek Strang.

Official opening ceremonies for the 2008 BMO Challenge Cup/Jubilee Trophy competition take place 6:30 tonight at King George V Park, followed by the Laurentians' match against Ontario.

Ten teams are participating in the men's tourney, including Feildians, the provincial runner-up who got a second chance as a replacement after New Brunswick withdrew from the competition.

Confidence that you can play against the mainland teams is "huge," says Strang, who says some past provincial representatives have been in awe of the opposition and therefore didn't play up to their potential.

However, the Laurentians mentor believes Newfoundland teams, in general, are catching up with their mainland counterparts.

"The overall play in Newfoundland is improving," said Strang, "and what you are seeing is teams better prepared to match up against mainland teams. You need to keep playing quality opposition each week to be properly prepared. We have four teams in this tournament (EPR Kirby and Holy Cross in Jubilee Trophy) and now we have to go out and prove it."

Another key for the Laurentians in making a run at the national title, according to Strang, is focus on defending and "making it difficult for teams to find space.

"And, of course," he adds, "once you win the ball, you can't give it away cheaply. We will need to move the ball around with confidence, but also with purpose to break down these teams and create chances. And, of course, finishing these chances is crucial."

Strang pointed out the Laurentians played many games this season missing some top players because of work commitments or injuries. That hurt the team offensively.

"Goals are never easy to come by," said Strang, "but I believe we will be able to find the back of the net at this tournament. We have players who have proven they can do it at this level and everyone is healthy.

"We have a very tough, confident group, but as with any tournament, you need to get a few breaks along the way," he added.

Strang says tonight's opener is crucial in building team momentum.

"I feel we are better positioned now than we ever have been to make a run at it, but I will not make any promises as we are really not looking that far ahead," he said.

"We have a big game against Ontario and that's our focus right now. If we win, then we can turn our attention to Thursday's game.

"Of course, we want to pick up points in all games, but right now, we are focused only on Ontario. Everyone knows he importance of winning the first game and that is our goal."

The Laurentians 'coach says his players have been anticipating playing at home for years and they can't wait to get on the field.

"We have been looking to this date for three years and no one wants to disappoint. Mix that with the atmosphere that will be at King George V Park this week and I think it will be an exciting tournament."

Strang isn't about to compare this year's team to the 2002 squad, which won a silver medal in 2002 in St. John's. Although he admitted the team's goal is always to win some sort of medal.

"I would never compare our team to the 2002 team," said Strang. "The 2002 team and the memories that people have of that week doesn't lend itself to comparison.

"That team is an inspiration to our entire team.

"Hopefully, in six years time, people will be talking about the 2008 Laurentians team like people talk about the 2002 team."

jbrowne@thetelegram.com




STRANG ON FAN SUPPORT

"I'm not sure if it is the crowd that inspires or if it is the situation. Certainly the crowd helps and we know we will have the big crowds, but all the boys will be looking to prove themselves against the (mainland) teams. This is what you train for all year; to get a chance to play the best in the country and beat the best in the country. But, I'm sure there will be a lot of goosebumps when the team hears the roar of he crowd (tonight). Hopefully, that is what will make the difference."



St. Lawrence Roster

John Douglas, Clinton Edwards, Marc Pittman, Darren Pike, Blair Aylward, Rudy Norman, Mike Howlett, Andrew Perrot, Tristan Slaney, Adam Loder, Sean Edwards, Paul Slaney, Ryan Slaney, Richard Kelly, Jeremy Brenton, Jonathan Pickett, Mike Douglas, Tyler Beck, Stefan Slaney, Alec Turpin, coaches Derek Strang, Dr. Paul Slaney and manager Jonathan Edwards.
St. Lawrence's top scorers: Jeremy Brenton, 6; Mike Howlett, 5; Sean Edwards, 4
The Laurentians open against Ontario at 7:30 p.m. today. The game follows official opening ceremonies. The club faces Quebec 7:30 p.m Thursday and goes against British Columbia 7:30 p.m. Friday. In the same section, St. Lawrence and Feildians close their round-robin action against each other Sunday at 5 p.m.

Organizations: Big Blue

Geographic location: Laurentians, Ontario, King George V Park Newfoundland New Brunswick St. John's

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  • TheOne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Good Luck guys we know you will do Newfoundland and Labrador proud.

  • TheOne
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Good Luck guys we know you will do Newfoundland and Labrador proud.