Top News

For Challenge Cup teams, road to British Columbia starts at King George V Park

In this file photo, Feildians head coach Steve Howell (left) watches his players in practice.The Challenge Cup soccer playoff tournament, which begins today at King George V Park, is being widely touted as something that can be won by any of the four competing teams. Howell buys into that theory as he looks for his fourth-place club to make some noise this weekend.
In this file photo, Feildians head coach Steve Howell (left) watches his players in practice.The Challenge Cup soccer playoff tournament, which begins today at King George V Park, is being widely touted as something that can be won by any of the four competing teams. Howell buys into that theory as he looks for his fourth-place club to make some noise this weekend.

His team would have take the long road to a title, but Feildians Ernst and Young head coach Stephen Howell believes his players are pointed in the right direction heading into the 2017 Molson Challenge Cup playoff tournament beginning today at King George V Park in St. John’s.

Feildians, who finished fourth in the provincial senior soccer league’s regular season, take on third-place Mount Pearl First Choice Haircutters in a Page playoff game 8 p.m. tonight at KGV, with the winner advancing to a Saturday afternoon semifinal. The tourney opens 4:30 p.m. with the 1 versus 2 game as the defending champion and league-topping St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians tangle with the Holy Cross Kirby Group Crusaders.
The winner of the St. Lawrence-Holy Cross matchup goes directly to the championship final 2 p.m. Sunday, while the loser gets a second chance as the other semifinalist for Saturday’s 3 p.m. contest.
“All four teams have shown they can beat any of the others during the regular season,” said Howell, whose team finished seven points behind Mount Pearl in the standings, but had a 2-1-1 advantage in the season series.
“Of course, that was the regular season. The playoff environment is different, with the crowd and the intensity. It all makes for a little bit of a different game, but even then, I’ll go back to what I said before, that I believe any one of thesee four teams can beat anyone else on any given day.”
Howell is hoping this turns out to be that given day. And the defending champs might provide some positive inspiration in that regard, since St. Lawrence advanced out of the 3-4 game last year to beat first-place Holy Cross in the semifinal before winning the championship over Mount Pearl.
Now its Feildians and Mount Pearl looking to replicate that title trip.
“They’re a veteran team with guys who have proven they can get results in big games,” said Howell of Mount Pearl, which is led offensively be league-leading scorer Tyler Forsey.
The Feildians coach is hoping his much younger lineup will prove to be an effective counter, especially with late-season additions.
Ian Gamba got into the last regular-season contest after recovering from a badly broken arm and the Double Blues have picked up five players — Emmanuel Dolo, Fely Elonda, Jonathan Leckie, David Goulding and Thomas Osmond — who had been released back to Feildians after being with the Canada Games team.
“Youth is a challenge and a blessing at the same time, but there is a lot attacking talent there,” said Howell, mentioning Elonda and Dolo in particular.
I don’t like putting too much pressure on them where they are so young, but they are also extremely talented and they certainly can make a difference in any game this weekend.
“However, from my standpoint, I also want to see our older players, those getting into their prime athletic years — 23, 24-year old  — to kind of step up and lead the charge.
“If the team plays up to its potential, it’s live another day and then you have no idea what could happen.”
The winner of Sunday’s final will represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the Toyota national championship in Surrey, B.C., early next month.
Between today’s two games, there will be the presentation of end-of-the-season awards and announcement of the league all-star team at 7 p.m.
Admission is $8 per game, or full tournament passes can be purchased for $20.
The league is again partnering with the Community Food Sharing Association and fans are being asked to bring a non-perishable food donation to the games to help those in need.
All four games will be broadcast on VOCM Marystown (740), with Russ Murphy and Rick Farrell on the call for a 26th year. They will also be live-streamed on Bell Aliant.

bmcc@thetelegram.com

Recent Stories