Drivers are familiar with the warning label, “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.”
The phrase might also apply to Johnston Challenge Cup men’s soccer this month.
With just over a week left in the league’s regular season, second-place Feildians Stavanger Dental has moved to within four points of the league-leading Holy Cross-Kirby Group Crusaders. And with those two teams set to meet this evening at King George V Park in St. John’s, Feildians could close to within a single point with a victory.
The Double Blues closed what once had been a 13-point gap with a busy undefeated streak that coincided with a period of relative inactivity for the defending champion Crusaders. Feildians have played four games in the last week-and-a-half, going 3-0-1. In the same period, Holy Cross played just once, suffering a 2-0 loss to the C.B.S. That Pro Look Strikers.
Feildians’ extended the unbeaten streak Wednesday by downing Paradise North Atlantic 6-2 at the Dianne Whalen Complex in Paradise.
Challenge Cup leading scorer Tyler Forsey tallied four times for Feildians, and has has 19 goals in 17 games this season. But Forsey has been on a particular scoring tear of late; 10 of those markers have come during his team’s four-game streak.
However, while the Double Blues could be almost even with the Crusaders by the end of Saturday, the odds are of Feildians finishing first still have to be considered long.
Holy Cross has three games remaining in its regular season, including Saturday evening's matchup at KGV, and needs to win just one of the three contests to clinch top spot. The Crusaders will also face Paradise on Wednesday and close out their regular schedule next Saturday in St. Lawrence against the Laurentians.
Feildians has two games remaining, the one today and the other Wednesday in Topsail versus the Strikers.
But whatever happens in these final games, there might not be anything more than bragging rights in the first-place finish. However the regular-season standings play out, it will be Holy Cross facing Feildians in the 1-2 Page Playoff game on the opening day of the Challenge Cup championship tournament, being held over the Labour Day weekend in St. Lawrence. The winner will go straight to the final, while the loser stays alive to face the 3-4 winner in semifinal play.
Whichever team emerges as champion from the St. Lawrence tourney will be the provincial representative in the national Challenge Cup, being held in October in St. John’s and the surrounding area.
There was a time when there were expectations Newfoundland would have two teams in the national competition; host provinces have often provided a second representative to fill out the tournament lineup, so to speak. But with the Northwest Territories sending a squad to St. John’s in October, it makes for a full slate of 10 teams, meaning no second N.L. entry was necessary.
Team GP W L E Pts GF GA
Holy Cross 17 14 3 0 42 43 15
Feildians 18 12 4 2 38 53 22
C.B.S. Strikers 18 9 7 2 29 24 18
St. Lawrence 18 5 10 3 18 26 44
Paradise 17 0 16 1 1 12 59
Note: Wins worth three points each; ties worth one point each
• Saturday, 6 p.m. at King George V Park
Holy Cross vs Feildians
• Sunday, 2 p.m. at Dianne Whalen Complex
Paradise vs St. Lawrence
Player, team GP G
Tyler Forsey, FL 17 19
Jacob Grant, HC 14 11
Stefan Slaney, SL 17 10
Aaron Buckingham, FL 12 7
Felly Elonda, FL 15 7
Owen Sheppard, HC 9 5
Nico Boehme, CBS 11 5