Originally published on CanadaSoccer.com

The opening game of the Challenge Trophy competition featured British Columbia’s Croatia SC, dressed in white, against New Brunswick’s Fredericton Picaroons, in red.

Considering teams from BC have won this competition 39 times and those from New Brunswick only once, few expected the Picaroons to win. But, thanks to Patrick Cormier’s curling shot from the top of the 18-yard box, they did.

Cormier’s goal, the only one in the game, came minutes into the second half. For those watching in the stands, the goal was both expected and unexpected. Certainly it came against the run of play. But when Croatia failed to capitalize on a series of chances, one could sense that an upset might be brewing.

“We should have put them away in the first half,” says Croatia’s Head Coach Tony Francisco. “We missed two chances from less than six yards. I warned my guys [at the half] that this could happen if we didn’t start finishing. I just had a feeling that one goal would win the game and they had it. One shot, one goal; that was it.”

For the Picaroons, it was a “goal by design.” At least that’s how player/assistant coach Joseph Crossland describes his team’s winning effort. “We knew we had to be organized because Croatia are a very skilled team.” The key, says Crossland, was staying disciplined at the back. “This allowed us to use our speed on the counter.”

And it was during one of these breaks that the Picaroons secured the corner that led to their goal. Following the delivery the ball bounced back to the foot of Cormier, who was able to curl the ball to the keeper’s far side.

For the Picaroons, this win is further proof that they can compete at this tournament. “Sometimes other teams underestimate us,” says Crossland, “because we’re from New Brunswick. But we have a lot of experience on our side. For several of our guys this is their fourth time at this tournament, so we know we can win, even against the big teams.”

The Picaroons will be back in action tomorrow against Nova Scotia’s Dartmouth United Golden Goal, while Croatia gets the day off to prepare for their final group match.

Live coverage of the men’s semi-final and final of the Challenge Trophy will be streamed on Sunday 12 October and Monday 13 October, at canadasoccer.com/nationals.

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