West Side Monarchs teams haven’t had much luck in recent soccer finals — indoor or outdoor.
That all changed Wednesday night at the Pepsi Studio, as the Monarchs Black defeated Stephenville 5-3 to capture the Corner Brook Molson Indoor Soccer League championship.
Jeff Young, Brad Roberts, Lucas Giroux, Clarence Bennett and Tom Beck struck for the winning side.
Tiuri Lomond, Andrew Beattie and Eric Flynn provided the offence for Stephenville.
Mark Woodman earned the win in goal over Flynn.
The Monarchs Black were one of two squads representing the West Side Sports Club this season, along with the Monarchs Gold.
With the victory comes an end to an almost surreal stretch of futility for the franchise in championship games.
In the indoor league alone, the gold and black has come up short in the previous four finals from 2009 to 2012. The league was on hiatus in 2013.
In the senior men’s outdoor setup this past fall, the Monarchs made the final for the first time since 1994, but surrendered a 1-0 lead in injury time and eventually fell in penalty kicks.
“Playing a championship game and having a lead late, it’s good to feel the proper outcome,” said Young. “We played a really good team game ... we let the offence flow through our defence and it all worked out well in the end.”
The Monarchs Black were the top team in the league, pretty much from the opening kick-off back in January.
“We wanted to keep that momentum through the playoffs,” Young said.
Speaking of momentum, the Monarchs Black squad ran into a team in the final with plenty of it. Stephenville won a bottom-three round robin to earn a berth in the elimination round as the fourth seed, then ousted the Monarchs Gold and Steers Insurance Curling Rangers en route to the championship match.
“They got better and better as the indoor season went on,” said Young. “We knew we had to have our A game ready to play them.”
For Stephenville, a team that just re-entered the senior men’s outdoor league last summer, reaching the league final was viewed as a success.
“I think just getting to play some soccer is a success for most of us here,” said Stephenville’s Daniel Alexander. “We weren’t expected to do anything this year, I don’t think.
“We’re an underdog team, a blue-collar team,” he added. “And we came here and showed the boys we can play soccer.”
Alexander said the Stephenville crew will definitely be back in the outdoor setup this summer and stressed the value of the indoor league as something that enables teams to stay together through the winter, giving players a chance to keep their fitness up and maintain a touch on the ball.
A Cinderella-story championship win may have been the icing on the cake for Stephenville, but Alexander acknowledged the tremendous skill level on the other side of the floor.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for (the Monarchs Black),” he said. “They’re a great team and they showed tonight that they were the best team in the league.”
With a full season on the new indoor soccer turf at the Pepsi Studio under their belts, Young said getting used to the artificial surface took a while. Once they made the transition, however, it led to fast-paced games.
“It was a change of pace from (the Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland gymnasium),” he said. “But it was a good one.”
Now, of course, the focus shifts back outside, with the senior men’s soccer season looming.
Young was optimistic the club could use this long-awaited indoor victory to propel themselves to greater heights on the pitch.
The team hasn’t practised together outside yet, as Young said they wanted to take care of business indoors first, but he said it’s now only a matter of time.
“The sooner the better, I guess,” he said.
“We’ll get our full team back together, get going and build on this momentum.”