It finished the same way it started, with an exciting penalty-shootout between capital-city sides.
But the result was different.
The Holy Cross Kirby Group Crusaders captured their third straight Johnson Insurance Challenge Cup Sunday, defeating their St. John’s rival, Feildians Stavanger Dental, 1-0 in the provincial men’s soccer championship final at Centennial Field in St. Lawrence.
After the game went scoreless through the 90-plus-minute regular session and 30 minutes of overtime play, the game went to penalty kicks, where Holy Cross prevailed 4-2.
The championship tournament had started Friday with the 1-2 Page playoff game between Holy Cross, which topped the regular-season standings and second-place Feildians, That one had also gone past overtime, with the Double Blues downing the Crusaders 3-2 after fashioning a 3-1 victory in the penalty-kick shootout.
In Sunday’s final, goalkeepers Sam Hawco of Holy Cross and Braeden Sheppard of Feildians put in shutout performances for more than two hours of play. Hawco, who stopped two of four Feildians in the shootout, was named the playoff MVP.
Besides the outcome, the other noticeable difference between the Holy Cross-Feildians matches was the weather. Wind and rain was the order of the day Friday, but conditions were much more pleasant Sunday, with a game played under clear blue skies.
It’s the 20th provincial championship for Holy Cross, with nine of them coming in the last 11 years. Feildians is left with just one NL Challenge Cup title, that coming in 1969.
They came oh ,so close to a second one over the weekend.
Their win Friday had sent the Double Blues straight to Sunday’s final. Holy Cross, meanwhile, cashed in its double life and headed to a semifinal game Saturday, where it defeated the host St. Lawrence Laurentians 2-0. The Laurentians had won Friday’s 3-4 Page playoff, edging the C.B.S. That Pro Look Strikers 2-1.
Holy Cross’s victory means it will represent Newfoundland and Labrador when metro St. John's hosts the 2019 Toyota national championships Oct. 9-14.
The Newfoundland representatives will be in a pool with British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick.
The Canadian men’s championship is being held in conjunction with the national women’s Jubilee Trophy competition, where this province will have two entries, local champion Holy Cross Avalon Ford and runner-up Feildians Greensleeves.