This is the weekend the Lady Hawks have been waiting for all season

John
John Browne
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AUS WOMEN'S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP

No one but the coach, players and their loved ones give the Memorial Sea-Hawks women's soccer team a ghost of a chance to win the Atlantic Universities Sport (AUS) championship this weekend.

And that's OK with Lady Hawks' star forward Laura Breen.

Breen and her Sea-Hawks finished the season in seventh place with a 4-8-1 record and would have finished out of the playoffs except for the get-out-of-jail free card that comes with playing host to an AUS championship.

Laura Breen

No one but the coach, players and their loved ones give the Memorial Sea-Hawks women's soccer team a ghost of a chance to win the Atlantic Universities Sport (AUS) championship this weekend.

And that's OK with Lady Hawks' star forward Laura Breen.

Breen and her Sea-Hawks finished the season in seventh place with a 4-8-1 record and would have finished out of the playoffs except for the get-out-of-jail free card that comes with playing host to an AUS championship.

"We're a good, strong team and we can compete with anyone in our conference," said Breen, a first-team AUS all-star who finished fourth in league scoring with six goals after winning the scoring title last year with nine.

The team has been practising all this week under the lights at the new artificial turf facility in Mount Pearl, site of the AUS championship.

"We haven't lost any confidence,' said Breen, last season's conference MVP. "We are excited about playing Friday night under the lights. We can't wait to get on the field."

The first step on the road to redemption for Memorial begins 6:15 p.m. Friday, when the Sea-Hawks take on third-place Cape Breton Capers in quarter-final play at the Smallwood field complex. The other quarter-final match between University of Moncton and St. Francis Xavier gets underway at 4 p.m.

The Capers and Sea-Hawks split their two regular season games, each winning by a 1-0 score.

"We played two very close matches during the season. It's going to be a good game," said Breen, the former AUS rookie of the year who has scored 39 goals for MUN since 2004.

She admits the MUN players have been thinking about this weekend since the start of the season.

"The only thing I think about is the playoffs," said Breen. "No one said it out loud, but I just think we got a bit ahead of ourselves because we were hosting the playoffs anyway. I don't think we focused on what we had to do to get there. We kind of forgot about the season.

"I'm as guilty as anyone in terms of thinking about the playoffs from the start of the season, but I'm so dead set on winning a (championship) banner I couldn't help it.

"It was hard losing all those games (seven) by one goal. It was really frustrating not being able to find the back of the net. But we've been scoring goals the past for or five games (eight goals scored, five against in the past four games) and we've turned it around. I think we're peaking a the right time. And we played so well last year (9-2-2, second place) we know we can do it."

While Breen concedes the team has been inconsistent all season, she praised the work of her team's defence.

"Our backline has been solid all year. They've been phenomenal. It's frustrating not being able to score. That's our focus this weekend.

"We just need to hold the ball...keep possession of the ball. Don't get too excited. We're good when we play the ball on the ground. We don't always have to try a spectacular pass through the opponent's backline. It's OK to hold on to the ball and keep it until just the right moment."

One thing's for sure, the so-far underachieving Sea-Hawks have all the incentive in the world to succeed.

"We are going to turn a lot of heads Friday," Breen promises," especially the heads of those who don't really believe in us."

jbrowne@thetelegam.com

Organizations: Atlantic Universities Sport, Sea-Hawks, Smallwood University of Moncton

Geographic location: Mount Pearl

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