Jake Warren (left) of Holy Cross Telegram Sports competes for the ball against Jordi Slaney (5) and Daniel Crewe (14) of St. Lawrence during the 1-2 Page playoff game that started the provincial Challenge Cup playoff tournament Friday at King George V Park in St. John’s. The defending champion Laurentians won 2-0, but will face Holy Cross again in Sunday's tournament final after Holy Cross downed Mount Pearl 2-0 in a Saturday semifinal.
©Beth Penney/The Telegram
The book on the rivalry that is St. Lawrence-Holy Cross will add another chapter Sunday at King George V Park in St. John’s as the two teams meet in the 2017 Molson Challenge Cup provincial men’s soccer final.
Between them, the Labatt Laurentians and Kirby Group Crusaders have won 23 of the last 25 Challenge Cup titles, and that’s assured to go to 24 of 26 after Holy Cross downed Mount Pearl First Choice Haircutters 2-0 in the playoff tournament semifinal Saturday afternoon at KGV.
Tyler Kirby scored early in the first half, Jacob Grant delivered an insurance tally midway through the second and Thomas Pieroway posted the shutout as the Crusaders booked themselves a rematch with the Laurentians, who had defeated Holy Cross 2-0 in Friday night’s 1-2 Page playoff contest.
That result earned defending champion St. Lawrence a day off and a direct trip to Sunday’s 2 p.m. final at KGV, while Holy Cross used its second life to get to the semifinal. Mount Pearl had advanced there with a 1-0 win over Feildians Ernst and Young in Friday night’s 3-4 Page playoff.
St. Lawrence finished in first place in the regular season, seven points in front of Holy Cross. The two split their season series, with the Laurentians outscoring the Crusaders 9-5.
It’s a matchup of the league’s top defence — St. Lawrence allowed just 12 goals in 23 regular-season games — versus the highest-scoring side — Holy Cross had 50 goals, 30 of them scored by either Kirby (14) or Jake Warren (16).
This will mark the third time in four years the two teams have met for the Challenge Cup final, with Holy Cross prevailing in 2014 and 2015. St. Lawrence took the title last year by beating Mount Pearl in the final.
Whoever emerges as champion Sunday will represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the national Challenge Cup tournament in Surrey, B.C., in early October.