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Dominant win by Holy Cross sends Crusaders back to scene of their — and Newfoundland's — biggest ever soccer triumph

Their 19th provincial Challenge Cup will send the Holy Cross Crusaders to the 2018 Canadian senior men's soccer championship, to be held over the Thanksgiving weekend in Saskatoon. — NLSA
Their 19th provincial Challenge Cup will send the Holy Cross Crusaders to the 2018 Canadian senior men's soccer championship, to be held over the Thanksgiving weekend in Saskatoon. — NLSA - Contributed

Shutout victory over St. Lawrence in provincial final means Red and Gold are headed to nationals in Saskatoon, where they won national Challenge Cup three decades ago

It’s a fact that wasn’t lost on the Holy Cross senior men’s soccer team this season.

Exactly 30 years ago, Holy Cross won the national Challenge Cup championship — Newfoundland and Labrador’s only Canadian title — and it came in Saskatoon, Sask.
It just so happens this year’s nationals, on the 30th anniversary, are being staged in the same central Saskatchewan city.
“That’s always been talked about,” said Holy Cross coach Jake Stanford, “but to tell you the truth, there was no mention of it this weekend.
“We were more concerned about getting two wins. And we knew we were in for a battle.”
The Crusaders looked every bit the defending champions as they rolled to another provincial Johnsons Challenge Cup championship Sunday at King George V Park in St. John’s.
In a game that was a rematch in a long and storied rivalry between the Big Blue of St. Lawrence and red and gold of Holy Cross, who between them have won the vast majority of Challenge Cup titles, it was the Crusaders coming out on top 5-0.
As a result, Holy Cross will represent the province at the nationals next month in Saskatoon.
“They were the two best games we’ve played this year,” said Stanford in reference to the final and the 1-2 game Friday, a 2-0 win over Feildians which put the Crusaders directly into Sunday’s championship game.
“And, of course, when you have a Holy Cross-St. Lawrence final, there’s never a need for motivation. We were fired up, and I think with the way we played, maybe we were a little too much for them to handle.”
The Laurentians have the most provincial crowns — 25 — since the Challenge Cup league was formed in 1967, and a few more before that. However, on Sunday, it was Holy Cross that dominated in claiming a 19th and second straight title.


“Of course, when you have a Holy Cross-St. Lawrence final, there’s never a need for motivation. We were fired up, and I think with the way we played, maybe we were a little too much for them to handle.”

Jake Stanford


That stood in contrast to the regular season, which saw four teams — the two finalists, plus Feildians and the C.B.S. That Pro Look Strikers — all making a case to sit in top spot.
In the end, it was Feildians which would claim first place overall.
But in the playoff tournament, it was Holy Cross that proved to be the best, culminating in Sunday’s victory.
Jake Warren, who would be named playoff MVP, scored twice in the final, including the opening goal and official game-winner. Tyler Kirby, on a penalty kick, Steve Delong and Jon Hawco also had goals for the Crusaders. Thomas Pieroway posted the shutout.
In fact, all five games in the weekend Challenge Cup playoff tournament ended in shutouts.
In Friday’s other Page playoff game, St. Lawrence got by the Strikers 1-0 in the 3-4 matchup.
Those results set up Saturday’s semifinal between the Laurentians and Feildians, who cashed in the double life they had earned with a top-two finish in the regular season. St. Lawrence prevailed 3-0 in that one to get a shot at their historic rival, Holy Cross.
The Laurentians entered the game with league top scorer and MVP Tyler Forsey, and veteran John Douglas, who had been named the circuit’s best goalkeeper during an awards ceremony on Friday. But that appeared far from enough to halt the Crusaders, who carried the play from the start, rattling an early shot off the crossbar before taking a lead they wouldn’t relinquish as Kirby broke in alone and beat Douglas at the 19-minute mark.
The Crusaders were up 3-0 at halftime, then got two more tallies in the last five minutes of regulation to put a bow on their crown.
 “I’ve got a lot of respect for St. Lawrence and Junior (Laurentians coach Junior Edwards), but I think we played the best game Sunday that we could possibly play,” Stanford said.

———

Challenge Cup Winners

1951 — St. Lawrence
1952 — St. Lawrence
1953 — St. John's
1954 — Corner Brook
1955 — St. Lawrence
1956 — Corner Brook
1957 — Guards
1958 — Guards
1959 — Guards
1960 — Grand Bank
1961 — Corner Brook
1962 — Grand Bank
1963 — St. Pat's
1964 — Feildians
1965 — Guards
1966 — St. Lawrence
1967 — St. Lawrence
1968 — St. Lawrence
1969 — Feildians
1970 — Grand Bank*
1971 — St. Lawrence
1972 — St. Lawrence
1973 — Holy Cross
1974 — Grand Bank
1975 — St. Lawrence
1976 — St. Lawrence
1977 — St. Lawrence
1978 — St. Lawrence
1979 — Holy Cross
1980 — St. Lawrence
1981 — Holy Cross
1982 — St. Lawrence
1983 — Holy Cross
1984 — Holy Cross
1985 — Holy Cross
1986 — Holy Cross
1987 — Lawn
1988 — Holy Cross**
1989 — Holy Cross
1990 — Burin
1991 — Burin
1992 — Holy Cross
1993 — St. Lawrence
1994 — Holy Cross
1995 — St. Lawrence
1996 — St. Lawrence
1997 — St. Lawrence
1998 — St. Lawrence
1999 — St. Lawrence
2000 — St. Lawrence
2001 — St. Lawrence
2002 — St. Lawrence
2003 — Mount Pearl
2004 — Marystown
2005 — St. Lawrence
2006 — St. Lawrence
2007 — St. Lawrence
2008 — St. Lawrence
2009 — Holy Cross
2010 — Holy Cross
2011 — Holy Cross
2012 — Holy Cross
2013 — St. Lawrence
2014 — Holy Cross
2015 — Holy Cross
2016 — St. Lawrence
2017 — Holy Cross
2018 — Holy Cross

* Grand Bank won provincial championship, but an all-star team represented Newfoundland in national play
** Holy Cross won the national Challenge Cup championship

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