What an action-packed weekend of soccer played at the EJ Broomfield Arena with teams from Goose Bay, Churchill Falls and Lab City competing in the 7th annual Guardian Hamilton Drugs Junior Labrador Soccer Cup for under 10s, under 12s and under 15s in both boys and girls divisions.
With round robin group matches being played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the schedule for Sunday was the Jamboree matches for the under 10s and under 12s with the grand finals being played for the under 14s and the U15 co-ed divisions.
In accordance with the rules of the Canadian Soccer Association, the scores from the matches played in round robins matches for the under 10 and under 12 matches were not recorded, so on the final day of the tournament, the players from each of the respective competing teams were mixed up for the final match. This gave players from Goose Bay, Churchill Falls and Lab City a chance to play on the same team as each other.
The division finals were quite the spectacle with an impressive standard of play and skill level of a number of players.
The under 14 girls final was played between Goose Bay White and Goose Bay Yellow. This was a fast-paced match with plenty of hustle played with competitive intent. You sometimes forget that all of the players from both teams are all at the same school and friends with one another due to the fact there was no quarter given during the proceedings of the match.
The Goose Bay White team scored the decisive goal at almost the halfway mark of the first half, with a stunning shot by Emma Mayo. There was no let up between both sets of players, pushing each other right to the limit.
With 21 seconds left in the match, the Goose Bay Yellow team had a free kick from about 20 metres out from goal. The shot hit the top cross bar, rebounded back off the goal keeper just inches away from the goal line before a melee of players pounced to try and kick at the ball. Laura Martin from the Goose Bay Yellow team managed to get her toe to the ball but was stopped on the goal line by the Goose Bay White goalkeeper.
The match finished with the Goose Bay White team winning 1-0.
The next match up on the schedule was the under 14 boys final. Another all Goose Bay affair, with Goose Bay Orange matching up against Goose Bay Red.
After the conclusion of the first half of play, the Goose Bay Red team took a 2-1 lead to the break.
Soon after the match recommenced, the red team was back on the scoreboard making it 3-1. The score line stayed this way until there was 4:22 remaining when Noah Reardon from the red team launched a pass to score a cracking flying volley from about 15 metres out right past the goalkeeper for what was undoubtedly the goal of the tournament.
The orange team managed to bring the game back to a 4-2 score with a goal scored with 3:15 seconds remaining of the match. This is how the match ended, with the red team taking out the final.
“I was very impressed with the level of play demonstrated at the Junior Lab Cup," said Dagan Kelly, coach of the winning red team. "There was a high caliber of soccer played this weekend. Kids had an opportunity to showcase their skills. The new artificial turf is a great improvement for the Junior Lab Cup. It is beneficial for the kids to have this new playing surface, it is more comparable to playing on the soccer field. With the short summer season in Labrador the addition of the turf in the arena will provide kids in Goose Bay with additional training time to prepare for the provincial soccer tournaments.”
Todd Walsh, the coach of the under 14 boys orange team told The Labradorian: “I coached under 12 girls and under 14 boys and the competition was very good and the teams were evenly matched. This certainly makes the tournament fun for all the players. There are talented young women and men from Labrador that I believe could contribute and be part of future provincial teams.”
The final match of the tournament was the under 15 co-ed final. This was played out between the Purple People Eaters and the Green Machine.
This match was dominated by the purple team, running out 3-0 winners.
Much praise has to be given to the tournament organising committee from the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Minor Soccer Association. It was seamless and they should be very proud of their efforts.
Tracey Marques, one of the members of the committee told The Labradorian that there were seven people on the committee who commenced meeting bi-weekly in around mid-March to facilitate the planning stages for the event.
“Three weeks prior to the event we met daily to iron out all the final little details which often take up the most time," she said. "There are a lot of behind the scene details that go into a tournament of this magnitude especially when it consists of three different communities participating. Lots of communicating with the Lab West Soccer Association and the Churchill Falls coordinator.
“The organizing committee may be the driving force of putting the tournament in place but it takes so many more to make it all come together such as the canteen workers, people working on the door, the referees, timekeeper, announcer and lastly the coaches and managers of each team participating.
"The feedback we have been receiving has been phenomenal from all involved to spectators. It's a tournament like this that gives the community of Churchill Falls, who do not have their own soccer association a chance for their kids to travel over and play and it's something that they look forward to each year."
The standard and quality of soccer that was on display from these young athletes highlighted some amazing talent in this region of central Labrador, and for a geographic area of relatively low population when compared to the likes of St John's or Toronto. The programs that are in place for these kids are obviously working.
Trevor Paine, the co-president of the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Minor Soccer Association said: “Many thanks to our soccer friends from Labrador West and Churchill Falls for making the trip over to compete. Huge thanks to our all-star managers and coaches for looking after our teams, and finally, thanks to the Junior Lab Cup committee, Tracey Marques, Val Cassell, Danette Fox, Greg Pike, Vanessa Cornect, Malerie Green and Tina Alexander, who spent countless hours making sure that our children had a Junior Lab Cup to remember."
This tournament was a warm-up for the players who will be competing in their respective all-star tournaments which are scheduled across July and August in Lab City and across Newfoundland.
For anyone who may be suffering from withdrawal symptoms after the weekend's display of soccer will not have to wait for too long as the Senior Lab Cup kicked off on May 29 and runs until June 3 at the EJ Broomfield Arena in Goose Bay.