The under-18 CBN Shannons squad that claimed gold at provincials. Back row (l-r): Renee Vaters (coach), John Mweemba, Josh Griffin, Peter King, Colin Rossiter, Matthew Clark, Stephen Macdonald, Jeremy Swain, Cody Vaters, Devon Groves, Logan Sparkes, Duncan Hunt, Dawson Parsons, John Ross Gillespie and Darrell Noel (coach). Front row (l-r): Blake Loveys, Cameron King, Emily Kennedy, Riley Pike, Braden Kelloway and Caleb Noel (goalie).
HARBOUR GRACE, NL — Most of the players on the Conception Bay North Shannons under-18 squad have been teammates for a few years now, so there's a strong sense of familiarity any time the team takes off to the soccer pitch.
"They love to play, and they don't even care who or when," coach Renee Vaters told The Compass. "You just tell them, and they're there."
With a title on the line last Sunday, the Shannons consistently put their best foot forward, holding off a team from Exploits in a 3-1 victory to claim gold in the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association Provincial A Championship. This was the first time a team from the CBN Minor Soccer Association won a provincial under-18 title.
"They just wanted to know where the party was going to be," Vaters said when asked how the players reacted to winning it all. "They were very excited."
The CBN Shannons have won several titles over the last few years, including the St. John's Metro League and under-16 provincials. Given its past success, Vaters knew the team was capable of competing for another provincial title.
"Oh absolutely, because they've done so well over the last couple of years," she said. "In the beginning, we had lots of losses, but they learned from them."
However, the team only managed to play a single exhibition game this summer prior to hosting provincials, meeting Bay Roberts for a friendly matchup.
"We didn't even know if (the tournament) was going to go ahead, because once you get up to this age group, you lose a lot of athletes," Vaters said of the three-team tournament. "They're working and whatnot."
The Shannons won their first game July 28 against Springdale 1-0 thanks to a goal from Devon Drover, then tied Exploits the next day 1-1, with Cody Vaters scoring the lone goal for CBN. The last result qualified the team for the gold medal game, which they won against Exploits 3-1. Cody Vaters collected two goals in that game and Colin Rossiter scored one for the Shannons.
The under-18 Shannons team hopes to play in a friendly tournament in central Newfoundland before the end of the summer, though nothing is confirmed at this point.