Members of the Placentia Lions under-14 club that won the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association Provincial D Championship Sunday, Aug. 6. Top row (l-r): trainer Taylor Hann, head coach Larry Brewer, Brady Judge, Ryan Barnett, Evan Connors, Owen Edison, Chris Reading, Gavin Pitcher, Liam Ryan, Harsh Bahourn, coach Zach Young and coach Kolton Green. Bottom row (l-r): Brady O'Keefe, Luke Davis, Allan Linehan, Colin O'Keefe, Charles Newhook, James Barry, Nick Reading and Luke Wadman. In front: Blake O'Keefe.
HARBOUR GRACE, NL — According to the team's coach, most players on the under-14 Placentia Lions boys soccer squad had limited experience prior to suiting up for provincials earlier this month.
"We had four kids that played on a high school team, and the other 13, they played their first ever game of soccer (at provincials)," coach Larry Brewer told The Compass.
The lack of experience on the soccer pitch didn't hurt the team all that much. With a provincial title at stake, the Lions roared their way to victory on the strength of Gavin Pitcher's winning goal in the second half of extra-time. The goal gave Placentia a 1-0 win over the Conception Bay North Shannons in the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association Provincial D Championship.
"There are no words to describe it," said Brewer. "Everyone just jumped up in the air celebrating."
Placentia's reputation for producing some of Newfoundland and Labrador's best softball players is firmly established, and plenty of young hockey players in the area have shown promise. Brewer said soccer definitely takes a back seat to those two sports locally for younger athletes.
Heading into the tournament, Brewer was expecting his team to play hard, no matter the challenge before them.
After making it through the round-robin portion of the 10-team tournament with a win, two losses and a tie, Placentia found itself facing the Shannons in the D final. The two teams knew they were well matched, having battled to a 1-1 draw earlier in the tournament.
"I thought our chances were pretty good actually, because they had a couple of nice players, which I matched up against with a couple of my good players, and I felt they were the same caliber as us," said Brewer.
After Pitcher notched what proved to be the winning goal, the players managed to settle down and get through the final five minutes without surrendering a late goal.
"I feel like they handled themselves as a mature group," Brewer said.