CORNER BROOK The result wasn't what the Steers Insurance Curling Rangers were looking for, but they were still glad to be home.
The Rangers and West Side Monarchs broke in the George (Daddy) Dawe Memorial Field with a 3-3 draw in the first Corner Brook Molson Senior Men's Soccer League action on the pitch in the Curling area of the city since late last summer.
Chris Griffin, Colin Lynch and Tyler Gallant scored for the Rangers. Brandon Miller, Mark Fitzpatrick and Pat Fewer had the Monarchs' goals.
Rangers' Eric Bourgeois admitted disappointment in not sending those that gathered to watch home happy, but wouldn't let it ruin the mood of being back on the surface the Rangers once ruled.
"It's just nice to be playing in Curling again," he said. "The surface is really good and the crowd that was here enjoyed being down here ... it's a neighbourhood thing for us."
Calling it the team's home field might be a bit of a stretch, Bourgeois admitted, since it's been so long between games at the much-debated facility. The field suffers from drainage issues and has, at times, looked all but abandoned in the spring of the year when the grass is too wet to be played on.
"It's our first game down here since last year and the Monarchs' first game down here since last year, so it's not really home turf anymore," he said, adding one bonus is the lack of sun shining directly on the field in the evening makes for better conditions, especially for the goalies.
"On Wellington the sun is beaming down on the goalie's eyes and it can be a big disadvantage," he said. "Here you don't have that, it's just bright."
With the lines drawn, the nets up and the meshes intact, Bourgeois sees no reason why the field won't continue to be utilized by the various soccer leagues and programs in the city.
"I know there's more game scheduled for this league, the women's league and minor soccer," he said. "I've played on (the Monarchs Complex) and I've seen (Ambrose O'Reilly Memorial Field) and this is definitely the best grass surface we have in the city.
"So with the dry weather, there's no reason not to be playing on here."
That's not necessarily a homer statement either, as Monarchs' Mark Fitzpatrick agreed.
"It certainly should be (used)," he said. "It's all drained fine and as long as we don't get too much rain — although we do need a little bit — we should be able to play on this all summer and probably even in the fall, if we needed to."
Both teams found the natural playing surface took some time to get used to, as local soccer players tend to be a little spoiled by the artificial turf of Wellington Street Sports Complex these days. Still, compared to the other grass options, Fitzpatrick said Dawe pitch is a quality place to play.
"We played a game on (the Monarchs Complex) and that's terrible," he said, noting he hasn't played at the Ambrose O'Reilly Memorial Field yet this season. "(Dawe) has actually got some nice grass ... it's a little bit lumpy, but it's comfortable to run on.
"We were happy to be playing on this," he added. "It wasn't too hard of an adjustment because of how nice the grass is here."
Even after watching Fewer score in the 89th minute on a free kick to tie the game and ruin the Rangers' big homecoming, Fitzpatrick stressed that was never the main motivation coming in.
"We've got to be looking at the standings and getting points on the board, more importantly," he said. "But when you've got a few fans down here it feels like their home barn and we feel a little bit like it's a road game for us, so that's obviously a bit of a factor. That pushes us."
The following is a summary of the other league game on Wednesday night:
Health and Performance Physio Hawks 4, CB Dominion Under-18s 0
Matt Massie, Andrew Martin, Todd Warren and Cory Rideout scored for the Hawks, as they continue to own the rest of the league.
Scores from Monday night's action were: Rangers 2, Under-18s 1; and Hawks 6, Sorrento Tactics FC 2.
The Hawks are now 11-0-0 on the year, with the Rangers behind them at 7-3-1. The Monarchs move to 3-4-3, while the Under-18s are now 2-6-2. The Tactics fall to 0-10-0 so far.