Dyke contends his team would break down mentally, giving the defending champs too many chances.
“It was like we were up against Manchester United,” says Dyke, whose team finished second in the regular-season standings, but lost all four meetings against Holy Cross.
In their first two matchups of 2010, Cross prevailed over Molson FC by 3-1 and 1-0 scores, but Dyke was especially peeved about the result of their next get-together
“When we lost 5-2 in our third game, I was really upset,” he said. “A lot of the goals they scored were because of mental errors, ridiculous things like giving the ball to Leslie Pope and Malorie Harris, unchallenged, at the top of the 18(-yard box).”
Kirby closed out the season sweep with a 4-3 win two weeks ago, but Dyke saw a difference in his players.
“At the end of the game, they realized how they could break (Holy Cross) down and defend against them properly. It opened their eyes,” he said.
Dyke’s charges will need to keep their eyes wide open tonight when they take on Holy Cross in the 1-vs-2 game as the league kicks off its championship weekend with a pair of games at Middle Smallwood in Mount Pearl.
As if they don’t have enough challenges, Molson will play tonight without its two top scorers — rookie Kaelyn Burke (7) and veteran Erika Lannon (12), both of whom are nursing injuries.
With plenty of player movement leading into the 2010 campaign, many figured the Cross wouldn’t have the depth it enjoyed in previous years. But after a slow start that saw them lose two of their first three games, the Crusaders have been unbeaten.
What’s more, they maintained their winning ways without the services of star striker Laura Breen who has been out of action since mid-July because of a nagging knee injury.
Heather Williams stepped into Breen’s spot on the wing, notching four of Holy Cross’s league-best 80 goals this season. More than one-third of that total came from midfielder-turned-forward Malorie Harris, who capped off her season with 10 goals in her last three game.
“In the midfield, she was always dodging in and out and setting up plays. Now, she’s on the receiving end of it and finishing really well for us,” said Holy Cross coach Scott Betts.
“It’s also a compliment to Samantha Hansford and Maria Oliver, who both stepped up in the midfield. With Maria, Sam and Pope playing as well as they did, we had the freedom to move Malorie up.”
Dyke says he won’t be assigning a player to shadow Harris, but will be concentrating more on her supporting cast.
“I’m not focusing on Malorie,” he said. “She’s an incredible player to handle one-on-one. All we can try to do is stop the players around her from getting her the ball. If we can prevent that, we can shut down the Kirby offence.”
Meanwhile, despite yet another convincing first-place finish — Holy Cross wound up 19 points ahead of Molson FC — Betts isn’t taking anything for granted heading into the championship tourney.
“I think we’re going to have a battle this weekend,” he said.
“Very tough games.”
Feildians vs Mount Pearl/3 vs. 4
The winner of the Holy Cross-Molson FC game, which begins at 8;45 p.m., will advance directly to Sunday afternoon’s final at Smallwood. The loser will use its double life and play in a Page system semifinal at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The other semifinalist will also be decided tonight.
Before Cross and Molson FC tangle, Feildians/Facey Financial Planning and Mount Pearl/Electronic Centre/Paradise Physio meet in the 3-vs-4 game at 6:45. The winner stays alive; the loser is done for the season.
There is no game scheduled for Friday.
In their first two games against each other this season, there wasn’t much to choose between Feildians and Mount Pearl. The two sides battled to a 2-2 draw in their opening meeting and Mount Pearl prevailed 1-0 in the rematch. But Feildians came out on top in their last two games, outscoring Mount Pearl by a 6-1 total.
Being outscored is nothing new for Mount Pearl, which allowed the second-most goals (46) of any club in the league — including three of the four age-group entries— while scoring the third fewest (25).
Still, Mount Pearl coach Jim Hamlyn says that was very much a byproduct of changes to the line-up and game systems throughout the year.
“We’ve got great goalkeeping in Keira Eavis,” Hamlyn said.
“She gives us a chance to win every game.”
However, making things a little harder for Mount Pearl will be the absence of leading scorer Nicki Locke, who will be married this weekend.
“We certainly don’t want to be without anyone when it comes to goal-scoring,” said Hamlyn.
“But that’s the reality of everyday life.”