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Mount Pearl chases down a Challenge Cup title

In this Aug. 9, 2015 file photo, file photo, Mark Reddy of Mount Pearl First Choice Haircutters is shown moving the ball through the midfield  during Molson Challenge Cup soccer action at the Gushue Complex in Mount Pearl. Reddy was part of Mount Pearl’s only Challenge Cup championship team in 2003 and the veteran believes this year’s squad can be the one to replicate that title win of 13 years ago. Mount Pearl is unbeaten in 14 games as it prepares to meet the league-leading Holy Cross Kirby Group Crusaders in the final game of the 2016 Challenge Cup regular season tonight at King George V Park in St. John’s. The same two teams will meet in the opening games of the playoffs, being held in St. Lawrence over the Labour Day weekend.</p>
In this Aug. 9, 2015 file photo, file photo, Mark Reddy of Mount Pearl First Choice Haircutters is shown moving the ball through the midfield  during Molson Challenge Cup soccer action at the Gushue Complex in Mount Pearl. Reddy was part of Mount Pearl’s only Challenge Cup championship team in 2003 and the veteran believes this year’s squad can be the one to replicate that title win of 13 years ago. Mount Pearl is unbeaten in 14 games as it prepares to meet the league-leading Holy Cross Kirby Group Crusaders in the final game of the 2016 Challenge Cup regular season tonight at King George V Park in St. John’s. The same two teams will meet in the opening games of the playoffs, being held in St. Lawrence over the Labour Day weekend.</p>

Most Challenge Cup provincial senior soccer pundits might be more than a bit surprised with Mount Pearl’s showing this year, but don’t count the players on that upstart club among them.

“Absolutely,” said veteran Mount Pearl centre-midfielder Mark Reddy, “our goal was to get to that one-two (playoff) game right from the get-go.

“That looked doubtful there for a while, and I know some people didn’t expect that from us, but we thought it was attainable all along.”

The Mount Pearl First Choice Haircutters have second placed locked up with one game remaining in the Challenge Cup regular season, 7 o’clock tonight against Holy Cross Kirby Group at King George V Park.

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Playoff schedule set

The Crusaders have 49 points to Mount Pearl’s 45. The other two playoff-bound teams — St. Lawrence Laurentians and Feildians — have 43 and 39 points respectfully.

On Labour Day weekend in St. Lawrence, Holy Cross will play Mount Pearl in the one-two playoff game, with the winner assured of a berth in the championship final.

The loser will play the winner of the three-four game between the homestanding Laurentians and Feildians.

In addition to the provincial Challenge Cup champion earning a berth in the Canadian championship in metro St. John’s on the Thanksgiving Day weekend, the runner-up will also get to play in the nationals as Newfoundland is permitted two entries — the provincial representatives and a host squad.

Mount Pearl, which won its one and only Challenge Cup title in 2003, guaranteed itself a top two seeding with a 1-0 win over Holy Cross Saturday, snapping the Crusaders’ 17-game unbeaten streak.

Mount Pearl, meanwhile, is 12-0-2 in its last 14 games heading into tonight’s tilt.

It didn’t look so promising early in the season when Mount Pearl opened the year with a middling 2-2 record. Included was a 2-0 loss to the Canada Games squad.

But injuries to Reddy, Matthew Hamlyn, Andrew Murphy and Matthew Voigt, in addition to vacations and school commitments, prevented Mount Pearl from getting its full lineup on the field.

“The injury bug really bit us,” said Reddy, a 35-year-old veteran on a youthful squad. Reddy is in his 20th year with Mount Pearl, having played his first senior soccer game at 15.

“This run we’ve been on is no shock to us,” he said. “We knew once we got healthy, coupled with the way we’ve been training, we’d be in the thick of it.”

Mount Pearl has been led by striker Tyler Forsey, whose 18 goals are second in the league only to the 22 scored by Stefan Slaney of St. Lawrence.

Young Mitchell Barry has also been a big boost to the Mount Pearl lineup. Barry, from Labrador, scored the only goal Saturday in the win over Holy Cross.

A Canada Games player, Barry has potted eight goals with this season with Mount Pearl and the Games team. Because the Games squad competed in Challenge Cup on an exhibition basis, Barry will be playing for Mount Pearl in the playoffs.

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

“Absolutely,” said veteran Mount Pearl centre-midfielder Mark Reddy, “our goal was to get to that one-two (playoff) game right from the get-go.

“That looked doubtful there for a while, and I know some people didn’t expect that from us, but we thought it was attainable all along.”

The Mount Pearl First Choice Haircutters have second placed locked up with one game remaining in the Challenge Cup regular season, 7 o’clock tonight against Holy Cross Kirby Group at King George V Park.

Related story

Playoff schedule set

The Crusaders have 49 points to Mount Pearl’s 45. The other two playoff-bound teams — St. Lawrence Laurentians and Feildians — have 43 and 39 points respectfully.

On Labour Day weekend in St. Lawrence, Holy Cross will play Mount Pearl in the one-two playoff game, with the winner assured of a berth in the championship final.

The loser will play the winner of the three-four game between the homestanding Laurentians and Feildians.

In addition to the provincial Challenge Cup champion earning a berth in the Canadian championship in metro St. John’s on the Thanksgiving Day weekend, the runner-up will also get to play in the nationals as Newfoundland is permitted two entries — the provincial representatives and a host squad.

Mount Pearl, which won its one and only Challenge Cup title in 2003, guaranteed itself a top two seeding with a 1-0 win over Holy Cross Saturday, snapping the Crusaders’ 17-game unbeaten streak.

Mount Pearl, meanwhile, is 12-0-2 in its last 14 games heading into tonight’s tilt.

It didn’t look so promising early in the season when Mount Pearl opened the year with a middling 2-2 record. Included was a 2-0 loss to the Canada Games squad.

But injuries to Reddy, Matthew Hamlyn, Andrew Murphy and Matthew Voigt, in addition to vacations and school commitments, prevented Mount Pearl from getting its full lineup on the field.

“The injury bug really bit us,” said Reddy, a 35-year-old veteran on a youthful squad. Reddy is in his 20th year with Mount Pearl, having played his first senior soccer game at 15.

“This run we’ve been on is no shock to us,” he said. “We knew once we got healthy, coupled with the way we’ve been training, we’d be in the thick of it.”

Mount Pearl has been led by striker Tyler Forsey, whose 18 goals are second in the league only to the 22 scored by Stefan Slaney of St. Lawrence.

Young Mitchell Barry has also been a big boost to the Mount Pearl lineup. Barry, from Labrador, scored the only goal Saturday in the win over Holy Cross.

A Canada Games player, Barry has potted eight goals with this season with Mount Pearl and the Games team. Because the Games squad competed in Challenge Cup on an exhibition basis, Barry will be playing for Mount Pearl in the playoffs.

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

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