Playoff spot on the line this weekend
Memorial University Sea-Hawks women’s soccer coach Walt Mavin (rear) watches as members of his team warm up, prior to a training session Tuesday at King George V Park in St. John’s. The team is on the road this weekend with games against the University of Moncton Blue Angels and the Mount Allison Mounties. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
Confident in their minds, the Memorial Sea-Hawks women’s soccer side will have to prove it on the field this weekend if the team is to make the Atlantic University Sport Conference (AUS) playoffs.
As far as MUN coach Walt Mavin is concerned there’s no question his team can get the job done.
“Absolutely,” said Mavin. “I’m confident we are capable of going into Moncton and Mount Allison and getting the results we need.”
Memorial holds down the sixth and final playoff spot heading into the weekend with 13 points, two more than the University of New Brunswick and the University of Moncton.
MUN takes on the Moncton Blue Angels Saturday and finish the regular season against fourth-place Mount Allison Mounties Sunday. Moncton was scheduled to play host to fifth-place Saint Mary’s Friday night.
“If we play our game and stay disciplined defensively, which has been a key to our success, we’ll get the points we need,” said Mavin.
“We need to keep our shape and not get pulled out of position when we don’t have the ball, especially at mid-field,” Mavin noted.
Scoring goals has been a bit of a problem with the Lady Hawks in recent years, although the players haven’t made a big deal about it.
MUN, with two games to play in the regular season, has scored seven goals this season, the same as it did last year. In fact, The Lady Hawks have scored only 17 goals over the past three seasons, including just three in 2010.
Compare that to the seasons 2007-2009 when the team compiled 80 goals.
And if 2010’s three goals was a record in offensive futility, how about 2005 campaign when the team scored a remarkable 38 goals in 13 games?
Of course, those gaudy offensive numbers never did translate into an AUS championship.
So the answer seems to be scoring key goals when you need them the most, which is easier said than done.
Fourth-year defender and co-captain Lauren Windsor from Mount Pearl pointed out, “While we haven’t scored a lot of goals, we’ve scored at important times to give us wins or ties.”
Maria Oliver, a third-year mid-fielder from St. John’s, recognizes the team has struggled scoring at times this season.
“Hopefully, we can finish our chances this weekend,” she said. “Getting a few goals will take the pressure off our defence because we’ve had a lot of close games this season.”
Windsor said the team’s strength has been its ability to play well defensively.
“We usually play hard for 90 minutes. We’ve had an occasional lapse, but we’ve been able to pick it back up.”
Windsor also said, as a co-captain, it’s also important to make sure there’s good communication among the players, “especially this time of the year.”
Oliver said playing on the road is no big deal. In fact, she says there’s more pressure playing at home.
“I’m pretty confident going into this weekend because we’ve played pretty well on the road and, hopefully, we can take the points away from Moncton. If anything, we’ve been better on the road this year,” Oliver said.
Like her coach, Oliver said she’s seen the improvement in the team from the start of the season.
“As the season has gone on we’ve been holding more ball possession simply because we’ve gotten more used to each other.
“We were just basically defending in our open games which is never really a good thing.”
Coach Mavin and his players expect to see Moncton come out hard to start the match.
“I understand they have a fast team this season,” said Mavin. “It’s their last home game of the year, so it’s desperation time for them.
“We’ll need to be on the top of our game… and we will.”