Chris Quigley/The Western Star
Player/coach Pat Fewer controls the ball during a Steers Insurance Curling Brook United practice session at Wellington Street Sports Complex on Tuesday night.
It won’t be until maybe halfway through Saturday’s season opener for Steers Insurance Corner Brook United that they begin to get an idea of how their off-season training went.
“As much as you do off the field and even in practice, it’s hard to tell until you get in the game and see how you react,” said Pat Fewer, who has been tirelessly pulling double duty as a player and coach while usual bench boss Vince Pickett is away for work.
Fewer is confident in one thing, the team should be miles ahead of their expansion season in the Molson Challenge Cup provincial soccer league last year, when they didn’t begin indoor training until March and couldn’t get on the field itself for practice until the end of April.
This year’s three-session-a-week indoor training began in January, with on-field practices starting at the beginning of April.
“In this league, fit teams win,” said Fewer. “To me, that was one of our goals that we could control.”
The other goal, of course, is a little more unpredictable. Like last year, they aim to be a part of championship weekend, where the top four teams in the six-team setup play off for the title. Despite their high hopes, they ended their inaugural campaign with a 5-14-1 record and fifth place overall.
Fewer figures a greater depth on the roster — buoyed by a few additions, including Jacob Westcott, who played with league champion Holy Cross last season — along with the experience gained from the previous campaign should both help their cause.
“Realistically, we have a better shot (at the playoffs) this year,” Fewer said.
Like last year, a final list of 30 eligible players must be submitted to the league, 20 of which will be Challenge Cup only. The other 10 can play in the local senior league and be called upon when needed. Fewer hopes to have that list finalized by Thursday.
The weekend’s opposition is the other team that debuted last season, the Conception Bay South That Pro Look Strikers FC. Locking down winnable games, especially at home, is of huge importance to Corner Brook’s playoff chances.
“C.B.S. is a team we must not lose points to,” said Fewer. “They will take some points off some teams this year and we can’t let it be us.”
Corner Brook United faces off with C.B.S. 6 p.m. Saturday and 12 noon Sunday at the Wellington Street Sports Complex.