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Forsey joins Double Blues (again), who hope to capitalize on last year’s first-place regular season
After scoring almost two-and-a-half goals per game last season, a year in which they finished in first place, Feildians came up dry when it mattered most in 2018, getting shut out in two Johnsons Challenge Cup playoff games.
The Double Blues took a big step over the winter solving any big-game scoring woes — be they real or perceived — with the addition of the best goal-getters in provincial senior soccer in one Tyler Forsey.
“He’s a (scoring) threat, no doubt about it,” said Feildians coach Shane Antle. “The opposition always has to be mindful when he’s on the field.
“And because of that, he will create space for others, too.”
Feildians finished on top in the Challenge Cup loop last season at 15-4-1, but in the end, it was another lost year for the Double Blues, the Toronto Maple Leafs of provincial senior soccer who have not won since 1969.
Feildians came up short on championship weekend, losing 2-0 to eventual champion Holy Cross in the 1-2 game, and then dropping a 3-0 decision to the St. Lawrence Laurentians in the semifinal.
In Forsey, the Feildians have added the reigning Challenge Cup MVP and winner of the Wils Molloy Golden Boot Award as league scoring champ four times in the past six seasons.
Forsey, who comes over from St. Lawrence, had 21 goals in 20 games last year. It’s his second go-round with the Double Blues after stops in St. Lawrence (twice), Holy Cross and Mount Pearl.
“I played with him in Mount Pearl when he broke into the senior ranks,” Antle said. “He was a good teammate back then, and he’s a good teammate now.
“He comes to practice and works hard every night.
“He’s a game-breaker,” Antle said, “but we have others who can fill that role, too.”
No doubt, he was speaking of Emmanuel Dolo, the league’s top midfielder last season who potted 12 goals to tie Tyler Kirby of Holy Cross for second place in league scoring.
Young Aaron Buckingham had nine goals in 14 games.
St. John’s is playing host to the Challenge Cup nationals next fall, but unlike the last time the Canadian championship was held in the city three years ago, only one team from Newfoundland will be entered.
That’s because the other nine slots have been filled with visiting teams.
Which means Feildians, St. Lawrence, C.B.S. and Paradise will have to get past defending champ Holy Cross if they hope to play in the Canadian championship at King George V Park.
The Crusaders won their second straight Challenge Cup championship, and 19th overall, last September with a 5-0 whitewashing of the Laurentians in St. John’s.
Holy Cross lost its starting keeper in Thomas Pieroway, who has moved out of the province, but added Sam Hawco, Memorial’s starting keeper who toiled for Mount Pearl last season.
Mount Pearl is not back in Challenge Cup this summer.
Speaking of Mount Pearl, fullback Michael O’Brien, the Sea-Hawks’ captain, comes over to join Holy Cross from the Pearl, and Matt Breen is back in the Crusaders’ lineup after sitting out the last three seasons.
Also back are Andrew Stanford, the league’s top defender last year, reigning rookie of the year Harry Carter and Challenge Cup all-stars Kirby, Sean Henderson and Jake Warren.
“Certainly, (a berth in) the nationals in the big carrot,” said Crusaders coach Jake Stanford, who guided his team to a fourth-place finish in the Canadian championship last year. “But every team is in the same mode.
“Thing is, you can’t focus on that. The last time the nationals were here (in 2016) we lost to St. Lawrence in the (provincial) final.”
At the 2018 Canadian championship last fall in Saskatoon, Holy Cross put on a fine display, finishing fourth. The placing was bittersweet, however, as the Crusaders were beaten on penalty kicks by the host team in the bronze-medal game.
“There’s no doubt that’s made us hungry to get back to nationals,” Stanford said. “But we realize it’s going to be a battle.”
St. Lawrence, as always, will be in the mix once again this season. Three Laurentians — John Douglas, last year’s top keeper, Sean Drew and Corey Mullett — were said to be joining C.B.S. this season, but opted to return to the Big Blue.
Kevin Oram, who was a starter for St. Lawrence, returns to the Laurentians after sitting out 2018. Long-time Laurentians Darren Pike and Brent Kelly are also back in the St. Lawrence fold.
A new Challenge Cup campaign opens Sunday with one game at King George V, and that’s Holy Cross playing host to C.B.S. at 6 p.m.