Health and Performance Hawks’ Ethan Allen, front, and Investors Group Under-18s’ Andrew Peckford compete for the ball duiring play at the Wellington Street Sports Complex Wednesday. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
The Health and Performance Hawks have been a model of consistency over the past few Corner Brook Molson Senior Men’s Soccer League regular seasons.
Yet, they’ve only got one championship to show for it — back in 2011 — with the rest of their playoff runs falling short.
“We’re finishing the regular season with very few losses, if any, and then playoff time we lose four or five starters,” said Hawks’ Cory Rideout. “It’s tough to continue on like that.”
This year, Rideout said, the season will end before certain players return to school, so he’s optimistic this year’s team will look the same during the season and playoffs. As an added bonus, instead of the 11 or 12 committed bodies the team has had to work with the past few seasons, this year Rideout figures there are 18-20 guys, all committed to play.
“So far it’s looking good,” said Rideout, immediately following the team’s 4-2 triumph over the Investors Group Under-18s at Wellington Street Sports Complex on Wednesday night.
Star striker Nick Park registered two goals in the win, with Andrew Smith and Brien Pattenden added single markers.
Ryan Dawe provided both goals for the losing side.
Mike Normore picked up the goalkeeping victory, with Tyler Kelloway suffering the defeat.
Pattenden opened the scoring just nine minutes in, with Smith notching another at the 15-minute mark to put the Hawks up 2-0 early.
Dawe cut that lead in two before the end of the opening half, striking in the 33rd minute.
Then, in the 67th minute, Dawe pulled his team all the way back, scoring again to knot the score at two.
As quickly as the momentum swang in the Under-18s’ favour, it went the other away again, as Park picked up the first of his two goals less than a minute after Dawe’s tying marker.
Park then scored again in the 83rd minute to truly ice it.
“We get 10-12 breakaways a game a lot of times, especially with Nick up there,” said Rideout. “Some nights they’re converted, some nights they’re not. Tonight a couple got poked in there.”
With Park up front, and Pattenden and Brandon Ezekiel patrolling the middle of the field, Rideout believes the pieces for a successful season are all in place.
“When you’re strong up the middle and you’ve got a good striker, you’re going to be a tough team to beat, I think,” he said.
The Under-18s found that out first hand, with Jacob Quinton specifically acknowledging the strength of the Hawks’ midfield and the speed of their strikers.
“They’re a great team, but we came out flat,” he said. “They woke us up with a couple of goals.
“We were just turning the ball over all over the field,” he added. “But it’s only early in the season and we’re just trying to get ourselves together here.”
Rideout was impressed with the young team’s resilience, acknowledging the timing of the third goal may have been more of a dagger than the goal itself.
“When they tied it up, we scored within, like, five seconds,” he said. “That just took the wind out of their sails again.”
The Hawks improved their record to 3-0-1 with the win, ahead of the second-place Rangers at 1-0-2. The Under-18s are 1-2-2, with the West Side Monarchs behind them at 0-0-2. At 0-2-1 are the Sorrento Tactics FC, while Stephenville brings up the rear at 0-1-0.