© Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
Clancy’s Pub’s Greg Keats steps over Under-18s’ Tyler Lavers as he slid under him to knock the ball away during play from their game at the Wellington Street Sports Complex Thursday.
CORNER BROOK When Tim Groom cranked the ball off the crossbar Thursday night, Steve Wheeler knew he had the game on his foot.
Four rounds of the game-deciding shootout had already occurred, with the score deadlocked 3-3, when Groom stepped into his shot that compensated with velocity what it lacked in accuracy.
Then Wheeler stepped up, paused briefly and ended the game — giving the Under-18s the 0-0 (5-4) victory over Clancy’s Pub at Wellington Street Sports Complex and sending them into the elimination playoff round of the Corner Brook Molson Senior Men’s Soccer League in the process.
“There was really a lot of pressure when we went into PKs,” said Wheeler. “So much pressure it was unreal.”
Penalty shots were necessary after 90 minutes of regulation, plus 30 minutes of overtime, produced absolutely nothing, as both goalkeepers — Sheldon MacIsaac of the pub club and Tyler Kelloway of Under-18s — were solid.
In the first round of the shootout, Zack Atwood scored for the pub club, before Ryan Dawe returned the favour for the Under-18s.
Allan Flynn was denied in the second pub club attempt, then Tyler Lavers put the Under-18s up a goal.
Ryan Durnford was next for the pub club, and he made no mistake, but neither did Under-18s’ Tuiri Lomond.
Pub club’s Greg Keats kept up the pace, making good on his attempt, which led to Evan Martin of the Under-18s being stopped, setting the stage for the showdown between Groom and Wheeler.
“It’s such a confidence-booster, getting a win like this,” Wheeler said.
The Under-18s went 2-0 in the round robin between the bottom three teams, to secure the fourth-seed in the elimination round. They will play the third-seeded Hawks in a loser-goes-home game next week.
“They’re missing a lot of players,” said Wheeler. “We’ve just got to go out and play our best game against them. We’ve got a pretty good shot, I think.”
It was a tough ending for the pub club, a team playing out of Stephenville that rejoined the league this season for the first time since 2010. They played an abbreviated schedule to alleviate travel difficulties which, while working out well for getting their players to commit to the season, may have hurt them a little in a big game against an Under-18s club that played much more often.
“We wouldn’t have had the commitment to play 20 (games) honestly,” said Keats. “So it’s better for us to be playing and have a shot than be playing 20 games and forfeiting half of them.”
Keats still considers the season a victory, despite bowing out early.
“We’ve got a really young core coming up through ... the future is bright in Stephenville for the team,” he said. “It’s a huge success just to be back in it.”