Their season is only two games old, but already Memorial University men’s soccer coach Scott Betts is delighted the Sea-Hawks have a break in the schedule next weekend.
Not because his charges are tired or banged up — though the Sea-Hawks did pick up a few injuries Saturday — but because he could use the time to get organized after a hurried start to the season.
All last week, right up until the day before Memorial played host to the Cape Breton Capers in their season-opener Saturday, Betts was staging open tryouts for the varsity team.
“We could use a couple of weeks to get healthy, but more importantly, a couple of weeks to get organized,” he said. “We still have guys trying out next week. And we could have had a couple more players in the lineup this weekend, but they didn’t we know we started (Saturday) and we couldn’t get the paperwork done in time.
“I’m sitting there coaching Sunday, and a kid from Kuwait came up to me and wants to try out. It’s tough. School starts Wednesday and our season starts Saturday. Who would think that?”
The Sea-Hawks could start preparing in late August or early September but the problem is, says Betts, the provincial Molson Challenge Cup league isn’t decided until the Labour Day weekend.
“Most provinces are finished earlier, which gives the university teams an extra week. That affects us big time,” Betts said, noting it was once much worse as the Challenge Cup wasn’t clewed up until mid-September, and it was two or three weeks into the varsity season before players were freed up for Memorial University.
“An extra week would definitely help us. I’d love to see it discussed a bit more,” he said of the possibility of the university and the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association coming together to making life a little easier for the varsity Sea-Hawk coaches.
“These kids want to play, and they want to compete for Memorial.”
The Sea-Hawks dropped a pair of games over the weekend, 2-0 to the Capers Saturday and 3-1 Sunday.
Rookie Sean Fardy scored six minutes in Sunday to give the Sea-Hawks an early lead, one they would hold for half an hour until Cape Breton responded. The Capers would go on to score another pair for the win.
The Sea-Hawks’ women’s team failed to score a goal over the weekend, dropping a pair of games to the Capers by 2-0 results.
On Saturday, Betts’s side ran into injury trouble when Matt Hamlyn, Taedy O’Rourke and Taylor Smith left the game.
“Matt hurt his knee, and it’s not looking too positive,” Betts said. “Taedy took an awful hit to the head, and he couldn’t go Sunday and Taylor has an ankle injury.
“So taking that into consideration, we had a good first half today. A couple guys were hurting and wanted to come off, but I couldn’t do it. We didn’t have enough players.”
Last year, Memorial won three games, and Betts’s best guess is a team will need six victories this season to secure a playoff berth.
“So we’re behind the eight-ball right away,” he said.
The Sea-Hawks are hoping to snap a five-year playoff drought this season.