Challenge Trophy champions return to Winnipeg
Five former champions - including defending winners Saskatoon HUSA Alumni - will participate in the 12-team Challenge Trophy competition from 3-8 October 2012 in Winnipeg, MB. Granted, one of those former winners celebrated as Canadian senior men's champions as far back as 1988, but the other four teams were all winners in the last 10 years.
Saskatoon HUSA Alumni won in 2011, Winnipeg's Hellas SC won in 2009, Surrey United won in 2004 and FC Winnipeg Lions (formerly Sons of Italy) won in 2002. Fifteen players from last year's Saskatoon team have returned in 2012, while 11 players from the 2009 Hellas SC team have returned in 2012. There are no active players from the 2004 Surrey team, yet two returning players from the 2002 Sons of Italy team (35-year old Andrew Aitken and 39-year old Steve Sawatzky).
As you would imagine, there are no players from the 1988 Holy Cross team - the first and only Newfoundland Labrador team to win the Challenge Trophy - still participating in 2012. There are, however, two family offspring from that 1988 team active in 2012: Matthew Breen is the son of John Breen while Corey Mullett is the son of Tony Mullett (and nephew to Paul and Dean Mullett).
Along with those five returning champions, PEI FC could be considered a sixth one-time champion. Prince Edward Island's Churchill Arms were the winners in 2010, with coach John Diamond and six players returning in 2012 under the PEI FC colours. One 2010 champion has joined a new team: Kenneth Morrison has returned home to New Brunswick to play for the Fredericton Picaroons Reds.
In all, 36 of the 225 players participating in the 2012 Challenge Trophy competition are one-time Challenge Trophy champions: 15 players on HUSA Alumni, 11 players on Hellas SC, six players on PEI FC, two players on FC Winnipeg Lions, Morrison on Fredericton Picaroons Reds, and André Duberry on Edmonton Scottish. Duberry is in fact a two-time Challenge Trophy champion, having won back-to-back titles with the Calgary Callies in 2007 and 2008.
As for champion staff, PEI FC's John Diamond isn't the only coach to have lifted the Challenge Trophy. Last year's winner Stewart Gillott is back as HUSA Alumni coach in 2012, while 2009 winner Kostas Vailas is still in charge of Hellas SC. Coach Tony Nocita of FC Winnipeg Lions wasn't a coach in 2002, he was a champion player. Holy Cross assistant coach Paul Mullett, meanwhile, was a champion player in 1988.
CHALLENGE TROPHY WINNERS:
HUSA Alumni - goalkeeper Jeff Dobchuk, defenders Jeff Friesen, Brendan Garritty, Jarvis Huyghebaert, Stephen Patterson, and Michael Veszi, and midfielders/forwards Michael Collins, Dwayne Gareau, Steven Irinici, Mark Korthius, Ryan McAllister, David Patterson, Nathan Reis, Jordan Schidlowsky, and Jay Tomchuk.
Hellas SC - defenders Billy Economou, Jordan Goetting, Jorge Mendez, Trevor Perrault and Phillip Porpiglia as well as midfielders/forwards Justin Castalos, Vinny Ferlaino, Thomas Findlay, Tom Foderaro, Edin Kurbegovic and Chris Musto.
PEI FC - centre backs Rob Aiken and Dylan MacDonald as well as midfielders/forwards Ryan Anstey, Dan McAleer, Jared Murphy and Jonathan Vos.
FC Winnipeg Lions - goalkeeper Steve Sawatzky and centre back Andrew Aitken.
Fredericton Picaroons Reds - midfielder Kenneth Morrison.
Edmonton Scottish - full back André Duberry.