Thursday, May 06, 2004

Soccer Substitute Shining

STEVE GREEN, Free Press Sports Reporter
2004-05-06 03:03:36

When the John Paul II Jaguars picked up a couple of red cards in their TVRAA boys' soccer season opener last week, Mike Pereira got his chance. Four goals in three games would seem to say he's making the most of it.
The Grade 12 forward got two yesterday as the Jaguars sheared the Laurier Rams 6-1 in a Central A tier game between two former champions with widely diverging fortunes at the moment. The win, coupled with the Regina Mundi Titans' 2-2 tie with the Aquinas Flames, leaves the Jaguars and Titans tied atop the division at 3-0-1. Aquinas sits in the third automatic quarter-final spot at 2-0-2.
Pereira wasn't a starter when the season began, but he wasn't about to mope about it.
"I just tried to do my best and prove why I should be out there," he said. "I took notes in my head and saw what I should do to help the team.
"But I also want to have fun and the guys are giving me good opportunities to score. We motivate each other to keep going and whoever scores, scores. In the end, it's still a win for us."
The Jaguars lost last year's TVRAA AAA final 2-0 to the Titans.
"It's like extra energy for us," Pereira said of recalling that game. "We see what we did wrong and work on it and so far, we've been improving every step of the way."
Jaguars head coach Gabe Febbraro lauded Pereira for the way he's seized the chance to shine.
"He's someone who's like our black knight, our back-door bandit. He brings a lot of intensity and he took a leadership role as a senior and accepted it full-heartedly. He's earned his place as a starter.
"And it's nice to see we do have guys who can step in. We lacked that a bit last year."
Yesterday's game was over early as Pereira got his goals and Fred Nunziata scored three in the first 18 minutes. Tshaka Anderson pulled one back for the Rams near the end of the first half, but Shawn Pacheco restored the five-goal gap with the final kick of the game.
"We've got a lot of new guys and a lot of new faces and we've struggled to string some passes together and put the ball in the net," said Rams head coach Cam Telfer, whose team fell to 0-4, but has already played the tier's top three squads.
"We just have to play positively our next three games. All the teams we have to chase (for a challenge-round playoff spot), we still have to play. It's going to come."


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