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Challenge Cup playoff time for Corner Brook native Kevin Oram and his Mount Pearl teammates

<p>Kevin Oram (left) of Mount Pearl and Zach Hynes of Feildians go up for the ball during Challenge Cup provincial soccer action Saturday at the Gushue Complex. The game ended in a 3-3 tie.</p>
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<p>Kevin Oram (left) of Mount Pearl and Zach Hynes of Feildians go up for the ball during Challenge Cup provincial soccer action Saturday at the Gushue Complex. The game ended in a 3-3 tie.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

To describe Kevin Oram as a player/coach this season, one would really need to accentuate the word player.

The 33-year-old Corner Brook native suited up for nearly all of the 23 games his Mount Pearl club had during this 2017 Molson Challenge Cup season — seeing 90 minutes of action as the team’s centre back in the majority of those.
The dual role got a little easier for him about a month ago, when the team’s true head coach Ryan Caines returned to the sidelines once his other duties with various youth provincial and club teams had ended. That allowed Oram to focus more on the field and less on the lineup.
During his time when his attention was split a little more evenly, however, the Challenge Cup veteran picked up a few things that just wouldn’t have been possible without the different vantage point.
“As a coach, you get to see different aspects you don’t see as a player,” he said.
Despite being around the sport for most of his life, he said he learned a few new tricks, which helped him become more of a leader on the field.
“Even with the game plan and the way you’re setting up,” he said. “But rather than being a coach and trying to dictate and tell people what to do, I just tried to lead by example.”
Oram helped lead the group to a third-place finish in the regular season standings, as they compiled an 11-5-7 record.
They have a lot of returnees from last year’s club that lost to St. Lawrence in the Challenge Cup final, but Oram says this season’s edition is at least a half-dozen players deeper when it comes to who can make a contribution on the field.
“That’s definitely beneficial going into the final weekend,” he said. “We’re going to need to win three games to win it all.”
Oram said the battles between the top four squads were tightly-contested all year and even gave the classic response of “any team could win on any given day” when asked to prognosticate how things might play out this weekend.
“To be honest, last year teams stacked up for (the St. John’s-hosted) nationals,” he said. “This year, the league was probably closer than it ever has been.”
Oram and Mount Pearl see their first action in a must-win encounter with Feildians 8 p.m. tonight.

cquigley@thewesternstar.com
Twitter: @WS_CCQ
 

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