It might as well be considered ancient history now, but that still doesn’t keep Walt Mavin from looking back on the 2009 Atlantic Intercollegiate Sport women’s soccer season as one of lost opportunity.
Despite a deep and talented roster — perhaps, some soccer pundits would suggest, the best lineup a MUN women’s soccer team has ever fielded — coach Mavin watched Memorial bow meekly from the playoffs last fall in Mount Pearl.
And that following a regular season in which the Sea-Hawks went 4-8-1. In fact, the Sea-Hawks only made the playoffs because MUN was the host team.
“I think about that many, many times,” sighed Mavin, who is back at the helm of the 2010 Sea-Hawks. “I don’t know if you can pinpoint it down to one thing, but the bottom line is we created our own outcome.”
The ’09 Sea-Hawks had an assortment of talent that included first-team Conference all-stars Laura Breen (the 2008 conference scoring champ) and Malorie Harris, and Nichole Adams, who was third in conference scoring in 2008.
“Sometimes,” Mavin said, “you can have all the talent in the world but if you don’t have team chemistry, that team-first approach, sometimes all that talent means nothing.”
So it’s back to the drawing board for Mavin and a young Sea-Hawks squad that’s seen Breen, Harris, Adams and Leslie Pope graduate.
“It’s hard to replace talent like that,” Mavin said of the MUN veterans who have moved on, “but we’ve got a young, enthusiastic, hard-working group of players.”
The Sea-Hawks make their 2010 home debut 1 o’clock Saturday afternoon and 11 a.m. Sunday against Acadia University at King George V Park.
Memorial opened the new season two weeks ago in Nova Scotia, losing 1-0 to Cape Breton and 2-0 to St. Francis Xavier.
Unlike previous years, when he had a number of scoring threats to which to turn, Mavin said he will be employing a defensive strategy, at least through the early going of the new season.
“The focus is on defense first vs attack first,” he said. “I thought we did a good job against Cape Breton and X; one of those goals was an own goal.
“But we’ve been switching our focus the past week or so in practice, looking a little more to go on the attack.”
Among the key returnees, said Mavin, are Samantha Hansford, Leigh-Anne Tobin and Ashley Dawe. Throw in first years Maria Oliver and Jennifer Burry which he is especially high on.
Between the uprights, Mavin is going with a three-person committee of Kiera Eavis, Simone Quinlan and Laura Pittman.
“They realize it’s a very competitive environment,” Mavin said, “and the decision on who plays will be based on performance.”