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2018 Senior Labrador Cup soccer tournament was big success

The Men’s Final between Chiasson Dogs and the SAGA Vikings was one of the highlights of the tourney.
The Men’s Final between Chiasson Dogs and the SAGA Vikings was one of the highlights of the tourney. - Craig Wallace

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. — Over 300 players and 25 teams from around Labrador were in Happy Valley-Goose Bay last week for the 36th Annual Senior Labrador Soccer Tournament, more commonly referred to as ‘The Lab Cup.’

The EJ Broomfield Arena was the setting for the event, which featured teams from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador City, Sheshatshiu and Makkovik competing in Men’s, Ladies and Masters Divisions. It was the first tournament to be played on the recently-installed artificial turf.

Julianne Griffin, the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay’s Director for Economic Development, told The Labradorian that events like the Labrador Cup provide both economic and social spin-offs to the community. She said to hotels, convenience stores and restaurants benefit from the out-of-town athletes and spectators.

“Not all benefits are monetary. There are both physical and mental health benefits to athletes who participate in such an event, but also mental health benefits for spectators who enjoy these events together, which enhances social belonging and unity,” added Griffin.

A highlight of the tournament was the first quarter final match in the men’s division. The first-placed Green Machine from Lab City, who have won the tournament for the past five years, was paired up against the eighth placed NAPA team from Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

In their round robin match-up the Green Machine had a convincing 3-0 win. But the quarter final was one of the biggest upsets in the recent history of the Lab Cup with NAPA holding on for a 1-0 victory.

This result had the local crowd buzzing, it had all the atmosphere of what one would expect for the championship match. The elimination of the Green Machine opened up an opportunity for a new champion to be crowned.

The championship matches featured Lab Dental against RMS Wabush in the Masters final; Physio North against A&M Construction in the ladies, and Chiasson Dogs v SAGA Vikings in the mens final.

The Finals

The Masters Final got off to a great start for RMS Wabush. They scored early to take a 1-0 lead. After the match started to settle and the Lab Dental team began to find some rhythm in their play, the goals followed with the ball finding the net three times. Lab Dental earned the Masters Championship with a 3-1 victory. Bryn Wood from Lab Dental team was named the MVP for this division.

The Ladies final was an evenly-contested match, and it wasn’t until the last few minutes of the game when the Physio North team piled on some late goals to blow the score to a 5-1 win. This certainly didn’t reflect how evenly these two teams were matched, as both were extremely competitive. However, the Physio North team made the most of their opportunities in front of the net.

This set the scene for the final match of the day, the Men’s final between the Chiasson Dogs and the SAGA Vikings.

The arena was full to capacity with not a single seat in the building available. The atmosphere was phenomenal, there was going to be a new championship team for the first time in six years.

The first goal of the match was scored with almost four minutes of the opening 20-minute half by Eric Matterson from the Chiasson Dogs. They carried their 1-0 lead into the half-time break.

The second half was less than a minute old when Adam Paine of the Chiasson Dogs was spectacularly felled by one of the SAGA Viking players; the SAGA player was sent to the box for a two-minute penalty. The resultant free kick was taken by Paine who drilled the ball hard past the wall and into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead to the Dogs.

The Chiasson Dogs continued to dominate the second half playing a more technically sound game and remaining more disciplined than the SAGA players.

In searching for a goal to try and bring the match back, the SAGA Viking goal keeper was constantly leaving his box and pushing up to the half way line, playing the role of a traditional ‘midfield sweeper’. This was working well, allowing the SAGA team to keep the ball inside the Chiasson half for extended periods of time while they searched for the elusive goal.

The gamble eventually failed with Jared Pilgrim of the Dogs intercepting the ball and kicking it the length of the field, sending it past the SAGA goal keeper who was hovering around the half way line, into the back of the SAGA Viking net. With only three minutes and 12 seconds left in the game, this gave the Chiasson Dogs an unassailable 3-0 lead.

The remaining minutes played out with no change to the score line, to give the Chiasson Dogs the Men’s Championship.

Following the gamae Adam Paine of the Chiasson Dogs told the Labradorian it was great to be back in Labrador for the Lab Cup.

“Every year it’s so exciting; it’s great to see all my friends. It’s such a tough, competitive tournament (and) it’s such a fun weekend,” he said. “The five-on-five is so much faster than the outdoor game, back and forth and more aggressive. The referees allow so much more; there’s nothing like it, it’s a whole different sport.”

Paine added the new turf was a big difference, compared to the wooden floorboards of previous tournaments.

“The new turf was great. I felt fresh going into the final; normally we are all hopping around taking painkillers,” said Paine.

This was the first time in 36 years that the tournament was not played on a wooden floor.

Medical staff confirmed the number of injuries treated this year, compared to last year, decreased by 90 per cent. During the 2017 Tournament there were 18 incidents that required the use of crutches, whereas this year not one single pair of crutches was required.

Two players from the Chiasson Dogs earned individual awards; Mithell Barry was named MVP with MVP for the tournament while Jared Pilgrim earned MPV for the playoffs.

Trevor Paine, President of the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Minor Soccer Association, was extremely pleased with the five-day tournament.

“Thousands of spectators witnessed one of the most exciting tournaments in our 36-year history. We saw a little of everything, a five-year dynasty team, The Green Machine, defeated in the quarter finals by a NAPA team comprised of a few experienced players and a number of youngsters (and) the new Champion’s Chiasson’s Dogs winning the final 3-0 in a powerful, hard fought, skilful final against SAGA.”

He said the other highlights were the Physio North ladies team coming back with a vengeance to claim their first title in years, and a fit and confident Lab Dental team of Masters athletes taking their first title.

“So, three new champions, record attendance from Wednesday to Sunday and a new turf floor which was a resounding success. Our Labrador Cup committee and our All-star parents did a great job all week making this event happen. Congrats to all,” said Paine.

Doug Redmond, President of the Newfoundland & Labrador Soccer Association, attended all five days of the tournament.

He told the Labradorian, “Really amazing tournament. It was truly an honour being at the tournament this past weekend seeing some great soccer and an amazing organization.

“The volunteers, executive and the whole running of the tournament was amazing. The respect for your association by the players, coaches, officials, volunteers, sponsors and the fans speak highly for your association and your executive members”.

Next year’s 37th Senior Lab Cup is set to take place May 29 to June 2.

craig_wallace@ymail.com

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