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Big Blue looks to finally add some gold

<p>The St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians play an intra-squad scrimmage game during a practice session Tuesday evening at King George V Park in St. John’s. The provincial champion Laurentians play their first game at the national Challenge Cup men’s soccer tournament Thursday, when they take on the Mount Pearl First Choice Haircutters, the host entry. Mount Pearl’s opening game is 7:30 p.m. today against Saskatchewan at KGV.</p>
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<p>The St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians play an intra-squad scrimmage game during a practice session Tuesday evening at King George V Park in St. John’s. The provincial champion Laurentians play their first game at the national Challenge Cup men’s soccer tournament Thursday, when they take on the Mount Pearl First Choice Haircutters, the host entry. Mount Pearl’s opening game is 7:30 p.m. today against Saskatchewan at KGV.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div>

They’ve got 25 provincial Challenge Cup soccer titles since 1967, when Newfoundland initially took part in Canadian senior men’s competition, and five medals from national play — three silvers and a pair of bronze.  

But the one piece missing from the well-decorated St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians’ trophy case is a national Challenge Cup gold medal, and the boys from the Burin Peninsula would love nothing more than to fill that void this week in St. John’s.

The metro region is staging the 2016 national Challenge Cup and Jubilee Trophy men’s and women’s soccer championships which open today.

St. Lawrence, which pulled off an unlikely provincial Challenge Cup win last month at home, is the Newfoundland representative, while Mount Pearl is the host team.

The storied Laurentians, with the most provincial senior titles since ’67, last won a medal at nationals in 2007, bronze in Halifax. St. John’s played host to the nationals the following year and St. Lawrence competed, but Big Blue fizzled, finishing seventh overall.

That’s the downside. The upside is when St. John’s staged the nationals in 2002, the Laurentians came away with a silver medal.

So King George Park, the Laurentians’ home away from home, has been kind to the Big Blue.

“Ultimately,” said coach Derek Strang, “the goal of any team is to win, and it’s something we want.

“But we’ve set a number of goals for ourselves, and the first was to get to nationals. Now we want to get out of our group (the Laurentians are entered in Group D with Mount Pearl and Saskatchewan) and advance to the round of eight.

“If we win from there, we go to semis and then play for a medal. So it’s a process, and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.

“What I can say is we want to go out and have a good account of ourselves in front of what I suspect will be a lot of fans. We want to play with effort and play with confidence. If the ball comes to us, instead of getting rid of it quickly, we want to look up and see what opportunities we have.

“At the end of it, we want people to say St. Lawrence played good soccer and worked hard.”

It’s been an up and down season for the Laurentians. St. Lawrence finished third in Challenge Cup regular-season play this year — for the first time since the Challenge Cup went to a provincial format in the late 1980s — but pulled off an improbable three straight victories for the all-Newfoundland title.

The 2016 championship marks the second appearance at nationals for St. Lawrence in eight years.

“It’s always extremely exciting to play in a national championship,” Strang said, “even for someone like Rudy Norman, who’s played in a dozen or 15, or Clinton Edwards, who was only 18 at his first national in 1999.

“We started training in January, going at it awfully hard,” Strang said. “To get to this point of the year is fantastic. We can’t wait to get started.”

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

 

 

Related stories:

Reddy to go

Holy Cross brings youth and experince to national Jubilee Trophy championship

Rosters for NL teams in national senior tournaments

NL rosters in Canadian age-group tourneys

 

 

NATIONAL CHALLENGE CUP

The top two teams from each of the four groups advance; third-place teams in each group play for 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th places.

Playoff games are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, while medal and final placing games are set for Monday.

 

St. Lawrence’s schedule

7 p.m. Thursday, vs Mount Pearl (at King George V)

2:30 p.m. Friday, vs Saskatchewan (at Mount Pearl)

Mount Pearl’s schedule

7:30 p.m. today, vs Saskatchewan (at King George V)

7 p.m. Thursday, vs Mount Pearl (at King George V)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the one piece missing from the well-decorated St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians’ trophy case is a national Challenge Cup gold medal, and the boys from the Burin Peninsula would love nothing more than to fill that void this week in St. John’s.

The metro region is staging the 2016 national Challenge Cup and Jubilee Trophy men’s and women’s soccer championships which open today.

St. Lawrence, which pulled off an unlikely provincial Challenge Cup win last month at home, is the Newfoundland representative, while Mount Pearl is the host team.

The storied Laurentians, with the most provincial senior titles since ’67, last won a medal at nationals in 2007, bronze in Halifax. St. John’s played host to the nationals the following year and St. Lawrence competed, but Big Blue fizzled, finishing seventh overall.

That’s the downside. The upside is when St. John’s staged the nationals in 2002, the Laurentians came away with a silver medal.

So King George Park, the Laurentians’ home away from home, has been kind to the Big Blue.

“Ultimately,” said coach Derek Strang, “the goal of any team is to win, and it’s something we want.

“But we’ve set a number of goals for ourselves, and the first was to get to nationals. Now we want to get out of our group (the Laurentians are entered in Group D with Mount Pearl and Saskatchewan) and advance to the round of eight.

“If we win from there, we go to semis and then play for a medal. So it’s a process, and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.

“What I can say is we want to go out and have a good account of ourselves in front of what I suspect will be a lot of fans. We want to play with effort and play with confidence. If the ball comes to us, instead of getting rid of it quickly, we want to look up and see what opportunities we have.

“At the end of it, we want people to say St. Lawrence played good soccer and worked hard.”

It’s been an up and down season for the Laurentians. St. Lawrence finished third in Challenge Cup regular-season play this year — for the first time since the Challenge Cup went to a provincial format in the late 1980s — but pulled off an improbable three straight victories for the all-Newfoundland title.

The 2016 championship marks the second appearance at nationals for St. Lawrence in eight years.

“It’s always extremely exciting to play in a national championship,” Strang said, “even for someone like Rudy Norman, who’s played in a dozen or 15, or Clinton Edwards, who was only 18 at his first national in 1999.

“We started training in January, going at it awfully hard,” Strang said. “To get to this point of the year is fantastic. We can’t wait to get started.”

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

 

 

Related stories:

Reddy to go

Holy Cross brings youth and experince to national Jubilee Trophy championship

Rosters for NL teams in national senior tournaments

NL rosters in Canadian age-group tourneys

 

 

NATIONAL CHALLENGE CUP

The top two teams from each of the four groups advance; third-place teams in each group play for 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th places.

Playoff games are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, while medal and final placing games are set for Monday.

 

St. Lawrence’s schedule

7 p.m. Thursday, vs Mount Pearl (at King George V)

2:30 p.m. Friday, vs Saskatchewan (at Mount Pearl)

Mount Pearl’s schedule

7:30 p.m. today, vs Saskatchewan (at King George V)

7 p.m. Thursday, vs Mount Pearl (at King George V)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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