St. Paul Soccer hosts largest Lakeland Cup in years
The St. Paul Soccer Association welcomed 54 soccer squads to the local pitches for the annual Lakeland Cup this past week, and when it was all said and done, St. Paul’s U14 boys and U18 girls teams took home the bronze and gold, respectively.
In total, 97 games of soccer were played in St. Paul over the course of the tournament, as St. Paul Soccer Association Technical Director Richard Smyl explains the tournament saw a much higher volume of teams than in previous years.
“The district asked St. Paul – because of our field, and being central to the district – if we would be able to take on all age groups in the same weekend, which hadn’t been done in many years,” said Smyl. “Normally St. Paul only hosts the U12s and U16s, and this year we took on everybody. It went well, our facilities are great for managing those kind of numbers, and the volunteers were great.”
The U18 girls team put forth a strong showing all week, opening the tournament with a 7-0 victory over Vegreville on Wednesday, and following it up with a 5-0 win over Bonnyville on Friday and a 3-3 draw to Cold Lake on Sunday morning. The convincing group stage performance earned the local girls a spot in the gold medal game where the team continued its dominance, defeating Lac La Biche 3-1 to earn the title of champions.
Smyl added the U14 boys team was seen as an underdog heading into the tournament, but thanks to some strong coaching from Stephanie Tremblay and a dedicated performance by the young squad, the team managed a bronze medal, and nearly gold.
“This team was a rebuilding team. We had a young lady, Stephanie Tremblay, who came and took on the team and coached it,” said Smyl. “They were kind of the underdogs, kind of a sleeper team coming into the tournament, but they came out of the round robin just flying high. Unfortunately the point differentials at the end dropped them out of gold medal contention by a point.”
The tournament, which kicked off on Wednesday, saw some tumultuous weather heading into the weekend, as heavy rains caused for swampy conditions on the pitches, but by Sunday, the sun had returned to close out the Cup.
“We had a couple referees go down and a couple of players,” said Smyl. We had the ambulance come and visit us a couple times, but just because of the good competition,” he said. “It finished off on a good note with the weather (on Sunday) and everyone seemed to walk away quite pleased.”
Smyl said that he “lives and breathes” St. Paul Soccer, and was out on the pitches watching all week. He added all of St. Paul’s teams put forth a solid effort, and did well in the round robin stages of the tournament.
“We came out actually extremely well in the round robin play. Three of our teams actually came out on top of the round robin play, but because of point differential and the way that the Lakeland Cup works, the point differential dropped them,” he said. “At the end of the tournament some didn’t place quite as high as what they were hoping for, but everything went quite well regardless.”