Two second-half goals by Sean Drew, St. Lawrence’s “ace in the hole,” gave the homestanding Labatt Laurentians a 2-0 win over Feildians Ernst & Young in Sunday’s Molson Challenge Cup soccer final before a capacity crowd at Centennial Field.
It was the Laurentians’ first provincial senior men’s championship since 2008.
Veteran Laurentian Marc Pittman said winning the title was an “awesome” experience after a five-year drought.
“It was crazy. The (rainy) weather didn’t mean anything. The weather was perfect for us. The fans were 1,000 deep and they were pretty much our 12th man the whole weekend.”
With the win, the Laurentians will represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the national Challenge Cup soccer championship next month in Halifax
“I understand hundreds of Laurentian fans are going to make the trip to Halifax, so we’re kind of bringing our 12th man with us,” said Pittman,
Drew, a 15-goal scorer in the regular season, tallied at 60 and 74 minutes against the Double Blues, earning the Gerard Quirke Memorial Award as the playoff most valuable player. John Douglas posted the shutout.
Pittman said the weather didn’t help the integrity of the game, with play mostly around mid-field in the first half, although both teams had a couple of good scoring opportunities.
“We built up play by play in the second half and that’s when Drew came through for us,” Pittman said.
Pittman said Drew, who played with Mount Pearl last season, was, “the best pickup we ever had. He was lights out for us this year.
“It just goes to show you that when you are fit and ready to play anything can happen.”
While Pittman said this season was a make-or-break year for the team, he noted, “Even the last four years when we didn’t win, we always felt we were the best team in the league. That’s what we’re all about.”
However, he admitted, there was pressure on the team this season after underachieving — by their high standards — in recent years.
“We felt that if we lost again this year, it would all start to fall apart. It was really important for us to win this year, especially since we were playing at home.”
Laurentians’ coach Blair Aylward concurred.
“These young men secured Laurentian soccer for many years with this victory,” said Aylward.
“The town and the team needed this championship.”
Aylward, who said his team’s team defence was incredible, especially in the second half of the final, also praised scoring hero Drew’s effort.
“He’s the real deal. He has a knack for being in the right place at right time. His endurance and work rate is incredible. I've never seen him tired,” said Aylward who added, “He’s also one of the nicest young men I’ve ever met. I’m very proud of him.”
Feildians advanced to the Challenge Cup final after a 1-0 upset victory four-time defending champion Holy Cross Kirby Group in semifinal play Saturday.
Kevin Connelly scored after 25 minutes and Michael Bartellas had the shutout.
In the second semifinal Saturday, St. Lawrence beat Mount Pearl That Pro Look Molson 4-2. Stefan Slaney, Rudy Norman, Sean Edwards and Drew scored for St. Lawrence. Matthew Hamlyn and Justin Pickford scored for Mount Pearl.
Pittman said his team was fortunate to get past Mount Pearl.
He admitted his nerves started to go a bit rattly when his team fell behind 2-1.
“We didn’t play well against Mount Pearl,” Pittman noted.
“They brought their A game and we didn’t. We were lucky to squeak out a win.”
Members of the St. Lawrence championship team are John Douglas, Patrick Slaney, Alan Dalton, Marc Pittman, Kurt Warren, Jordi Slaney, Paul Slaney, Sean Edwards, Sean Drew, Richard Kelly, Rudy Norman, Clinton Edwards, Shayne Dunphy, Stefan Slaney, Colin Power, Darren Pike, Andrew Perrott, Jordan Caines, Jonathan Grant, Corey Mullett, Mike Gregory, Shane Perrott, Brent Kelly, Adam Kelly, coach Blair Aylward, assistant coach Derek Strang, assistant coach Dr. Paul Slaney and manager Jonathan Edwards.
2013 Challenge Cup award winners
Dick Power Memorial Award, MVP Regular Season: Clinton Edwards, St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians
Jim Goff Memorial Award, Most Spirited Player: Jake Warren, Holy Cross Kirby Group
Jeff Babstock Award, Top Defender: Clinton Edwards, St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians
Ed Moyst Award, Rookie of the Year: Ben Collingwood, Feildians Ernst & Young
Bobby Breen Memorial Award, first place regular season: Holy Cross Kirby Group
Wils Molloy Golden Boot Award, highest goal-scorer in the regular season: Tyler Forsey, 31 goals, Holy Cross Kirby Group
John Douglas, St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians
Clinton Edwards, St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians
Jon Kelly, Mount Pearl That Pro Look Molson
Chris Pope, Holy Cross Kirby Group
Andrew Murphy, Feildians Ernst & Young
Jake Warren, Holy Cross Kirby Group
Pat Reddick, Holy Cross Kirby Group
Matthew Hamlyn, Mount Pearl That Pro Look Molson
Sean Drew, St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians
Steve Delong, Holy Cross Kirby Group
Tyler Forsey, Holy Cross Kirby Group
All-star coach, Alphonse Warren Memorial Award
Blair Aylward, St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians
Provincial Challenge Cup winners
2013: St Lawrence
2012: Holy Cross
2011: Holy Cross
2010: Holy Cross
2009: Holy Cross
2008: St Lawrence
2007: St Lawrence (bronze medal at Nationals)
2006: St Lawrence
2005: St Lawrence
2003: Mount Pearl
2002: St Lawrence (silver medal at Nationals)
2001: St Lawrence
2000: St Lawrence
1999: St Lawrence (bronze medal at Nationals)
1998: St Lawrence
1997: St Lawrence
1996: St Lawrence
1995: St Lawrence
1994: Holy Cross
1993: St Lawrence
1992: Holy Cross
1989: Holy Cross (silver medal at Nationals)
1988: Holy Cross (gold medal at Nationals)
1986: Holy Cross
1985: Holy Cross
1984: Holy Cross
1983: Holy Cross
1982: St Lawrence
1981: Holy Cross (bronze medal at Nationals)
1980: St Lawrence
1979: Holy Cross
1978: St Lawrence
1977: St Lawrence (silver medal at Nationals)