Eyes on the playoff prize

John
John Browne
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Sea-Hawks desperate to make it to post season

Memorial Sea-Hawks women’s soccer team  worked out Thursday night at King George V Park in preparation for the opening weekend of Atlantic University Sport (AUS) competition. The Lady Hawks play host Saint Mary’s University today and Sunday.— Photo by Keith Gosse/TheTelegram

Missing the playoffs by only three points should be enough incentive for the Memorial Sea-Hawks women’s soccer team to find another gear this Atlantic University Sport (AUS) season.

That will mean turning some of the five draws last season into wins this time around.

The Lady Hawks open the season 3 o’clock this afternoon against Saint Mary’s Huskies at King George V Park. They play again 11 a.m. Sunday.

Fixing the team’s pop gun offence is a priority, according to coach Walt Mavin.

“We didn’t score a whole lot of goals last year (seven in 13 games),” said Mavin. “It was one of our lowest goals total in a very long time. Obviously, there’s lots of room for improvement in that area.”

Mavin said the players need to create more scoring opportunities and, more importantly, finish when they get them.

Working on ways to establish a consistent offence while maintaining a solid defence is crucial if the team is going to take the next step to post season play.

Fourth-year veteran Maria Oliver acknowledged the Sea-Hawks had trouble capitalizing on many their scoring chances last season, but she believes that will change.

“This year, we have some more attacking players so it looks very promising,” she said after a practce Thursday night at King George V Park.

Oliver said it should also help the team chemistry with nine players returning this season.

“It was really disappointing not making the playoffs last season,” said Oliver, “but this year everyone seems to have a different attitude.

“We have some really good recruits from the Canada Games team. We’re training extra hard and really looking forward to this season.”

This is a busy time for Oliver, who will represent the province at the Canadian Soccer Association's Jubilee Trophy club nationals in Halifax Oct. 9-14 as a member of C.B.S. Holy Cross Kirby Group.

The Lady Hawks finished in seventh place last season at 3-5-5. MUN lost 2-0 to the University of Moncton and played Mount Allison University — the team they needed to catch for a playoff berth — to a scoreless draw in the team’s final two games of the 2012 regular AUS schedule.

Mavin said he’s encouraged by some of the newcomers, including Jane Pope and Jessi Noseworthy of St. John’s, along with Geena Oxford from New Brunswick.

“We expect those players to make an immediate impact,” he said.

Oxford has been nursing an injury, but may be ready to play this weekend.

The 22-player roster, cut down from 38 tryouts, includes 11 players from Mount Pearl and 10 from St. John’s. There are nine returning players and a few from previous years who have returned. Nine of the 22 players are rookies.

Like all coaches, Mavin understands the value of playing well and pulling out a victory in any season opener. Now all he needs is a little cooperation from the visitors.

“SMU always has a good team,” said the MUN coach. “They are well organized and tough to play against.

“It will be a good, early test and we’re looking forward to it.”

Saint Mary’s finished with a 5-6-2 record last season, tied for fourth place.

Dalhousie Tigers are the defending conference champions after upsetting Cape Breton Capers 3-1 in last years’s final. The Capers had gone undefeated during the regular season.

 

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

 

 

Organizations: Atlantic University Sport, Canada Games, Canadian Soccer Association C.B.S. Holy Cross Kirby Group.The University of Moncton Mount Allison University

Geographic location: Saint Mary, Halifax, New Brunswick Oxford Mount Pearl

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