McFarlane comfortable in unheralded role with Western Under-14s

Jamie Bennett
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Ryan McFarlane of Deer Lake does some shooting drills with the Western Under-14s team at the Wellington Street Sports Complex Thursday. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy

Fullback isn’t typically the position that leaps to mind when thinking of glamorous assignments on the soccer pitch.

But Deer Lake’s Ryan McFarlane has found honour and enjoyment in the position this season with Western of the Under-14 provincial boys soccer league.

In fact, it’s the only place he’s ever wanted to play. He said he likes being aggressive to the ball and getting it up the field.

He said while the role may seem thankless from the sidelines, players know the vital role a solid back line can play on a team.

The Grade 9 student at Xavier Junior High in Deer Lake said the camaraderie and team spirit around the club has made it a summer to remember in his rookie year.

Western have been idle since earning a road split with a 3-0 win over Feildians Aug. 4 in St. John’s.

The squad finishes the regular season with games at home against the St. John’s 13s Saturday and Sunday at the Wellington Street sports complex.

With a 9-4-1 record, Western are in third place and are assured a spot in the four-team playoffs.

Facing the seventh-place 13s, McFarlane said his team must focus on finishing the season in fine form despite facing such a fresh-faced crew.

“We’re an all-around good team from the keepers to the strikers. If we take it hard to them and play our best, that’s really all we can do.”

The son of Wanda and Glen said he’s proud to hail from Deer Lake and have the chance to represent his hometown and region as part of Western.

With the team looking poised to contend in the playoffs, where powerhouse Avalon teams like St. John’s Under-14s and Mount Pearl will loom, McFarlane said he’s eager to help show his club belongs in such elite company.

“I like the feeling of knowing we have something to prove against the east coast teams,” he said. “That rivalry always makes you play a bit harder.”

Game 1 of the two-game set is slated for 5 p.m. this evening before the teams lock horns again 9 a.m. Sunday.

Geographic location: Deer Lake, Western Under, Wellington Street Mount Pearl

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