Now that we are approaching the home stretch of the Challenge Cup schedule I’ll take a look at the six teams that are competing in the league this season – Holy Cross, St. Lawrence, Feildians, Mount Pearl, Western United FC and CB Auto Strikers FC.
Holy Cross Kirby Group – Holy Cross picked right up from where they finished last season. They are definitely the team to beat this year. They are waltzing through the regular season seemingly unchallenged. When Holy Cross walked into St. Lawrence in June and defeated the home team twice on their own field they showed the league they are for real. However, Mount Pearl did give them a good pounding in July, but that could have been more of a wakeup call for the team than it is reality. I feel Jeremy Babstock has blossomed as their key player and I like the way young Scotty Woodfine and Jake Warren are developing.
Coach’s Corner’s Comments: Cross is a well-oiled machine but their head coach has to get a starting line up in place. So far this season, he is playing Mr. Nice Guy and giving all players fair playing time. That type of coaching philosophy won’t win you many championships.
St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians – St. Lawrence is not playing the way that fans are used to seeing their teams play for past two decades. Many of the veteran players are not playing at their usual level. They are just going through the motions and are lacking intensity. Veteran Mike Howlett has been great when he is able to play but, due to injuries, his lack of playing time is killing the Laurentians’ offence. The most consistent and hard working players this season are young Jon Grant, Boyd Roul, and Jordan Caines but neither of these players has the ability to carry the team.
Coach’s Corner’s Comments: Coach Edwards is frustrated and so are many of the veteran players. They are guys that must hold their heads high and turn this horse and buggy around. We all know that St. Lawrence fans are very demanding but they also know the game very well.
Mount Pearl That Pro Look-Molson – Mount Pearl is playing very good soccer this season. They are playing great defensively. I contribute this to change in technique to their coach and to their goalkeeper, Tyler Putt. He is their MVP and he very well may be at this point the league’s MVP. He has been simply outstanding. I like the move where Shane Antle has been placed in the center back position. He has adapted well and is actually their leader on defence. This combined with the fact that Jon Kelly is playing super in the midfield makes Mount Pearl a legitimate contender this season.
Coach’s Corner’s Comments: As much as this team is great defensively, they are weak offensively which very well could lead to their downfall.
Fieldians /Ernst & Young Orenda – This team is on their way back into the playoffs and good for them. Head coach Johnny Acreman’s attitude alone is deserving enough to put his team into contention. However, Acreman hasn’t done it alone. Matthew Wilkins is back on track and having a career year. Zack Hynes and Colin Power have rebounded back into form. Their captain, Stephen Croft, is a very steady player and has a great head for the game. I like the fact that Mike Dawe, who works like a dog for every bit of playing time he gets, has received a considerable amount of field time this season. Good for you, Mike!
Coach’s Corner’s Comments: The Feildians are capable of beating any team on a given day and whoever they are to meet on Labour Day will be challenged.
Rugged Edge Western United FC – Western United has struggled this season. I had high hopes for them, but it’s not to be in 2010. When their team’s head coach, Garland Oram, moved from Corner Brook to St. John’s to take up a new job, things changed. The team has struggled both at home and on the road with regards to wins. What’s surprising to me is this team has some very good players on their roster: Kevin Oram, Mark Fitzpatrick, Colin Lynch, Patrick Fewer, Clarence Bennett and young Stephen Hobbs. These players are that are capable of playing with any of the other league teams.
Coach’s Corner’s Comments: Personally, I hope Western United can regroup after this season and they can move forward from this year’s experience. I can honestly say that they are a welcomed addition to the Challenge Cup league.
CB Auto Strikers FC – To date, this team has four wins, which is simply amazing. The team is lead by their goalkeeper, Chris Hynes. He has been magnificent. Matthew Foote has had a good year and is a great leader. A few of the young fellows that left Mount Pearl organization for the opportunity to play more regularly have competed and competed hard. Young Jordan Wells (at just 18 years of age) is proving that there is a home team for young CBS players to aspire to play with.
Coach’s Corner’s Comments: This club and association have had a great season. Even at this point, the team has surpassed all expectations and my hat is off to all that are involved.
Dunphy’s Details – The provincial Intermediate Tournament is scheduled for Aug. 27-29 in St. Lawrence and the Burin Peninsula Soccer Association will be represented with teams from St. Lawrence, Grand Bank and Burin. A team named Shamrocks FC, which is most comprised of players from Lawn and the Burin Peninsula is also playing in the tournament. The Avalon will be represented by four teams and Gander will be there to represent the Central Region. See ya there!