Article content continued
“The youngsters have been smashing,” said Wheeldon Jr. “For me, the game’s part quality and part character, and for us, these players grew here.
“Mo Farsi? He came from nowhere and had one of the tournaments in his life,” continued the coach. “Elijah Adekugbe became a man at this tournament, and he’s still young. He talks about things with a reasoned and rational response. Elliot Simmons? He finished bottom of the league last year (with HFX), so one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, because he really stepped up this year.
“You’ve got Adekugbe and Simmons that played as 10 men against Halifax and got pushed to the edge, and then we played them again (against Forge) and they kept going and going.
“Dominick Zator is the ironman — he played every single minute out here. And it’s tough to recover and go again.”
Bruno Zebie had his moments, too.
As did Nathan Mavila and Jordan Brown, both sporting timely boots in the bubble.
Heck . . . the team was full-marks throughout the lineup, right down to rising talent Aribim Pepple.
“It just goes to show you that this league is for young players to keep developing and keep growing, because given these circumstances that these guys have never experienced before, they were brave and they had courage to play,” said Wheeldon Jr. “We asked them to do things . . . and they did it with class and dignity.
“So I couldn’t be prouder for them. They’ll grow from this, and we’ll go from this.”
For now, however, they’ll look back on the last five weeks with fondness — that is once they get past the disappointment.
“It’s definitely tough being away from home for this long,” Zator said. “But everybody had to deal with circumstances.
“I think in hindsight we’ll say, ‘It was difficult — we were away from family — but there was a reason all the teams, players and coaches made the sacrifice to come out here,’” agreed Adekugbe. “This is our profession. This is our job. It’s something we wanted to sacrifice for.’”
“This has been hard for everybody to be away for six weeks to deal with the COVID situation and to have two weeks of training coming into it,” added Wheeldon Jr. “It’s been hard for all the clubs. It’s been an exhausting haul. But it’s been a memorable one.
“We’re thankful that the league owners took a gamble on this and P.E.I. welcomed us into this and every single one of us committed to it. It wasn’t just our squad that gave everything we had. Every single club just put everything into it.
“It’s been a fantastic tournament and a good way to get a 2020 something out of it because we’re still growing this league.”
Just as Cavalry is growing towards becoming a champion.
“No complaints — I’m just proud of what the lads gave,” praised Wheeldon Jr. “You know what? We’ll keep going, because what we lacked in quality, we made up in attitude and refused to lose.
“Sometimes you just run out of time.”