“We should never be in a position of not making the playoffs,” Stanford said. “MUN should always be in the playoffs. That’s it.
“So last year, that’s on me. I take that personally. And this is what we we’ve been preaching in camp, that everyone has to accept responsibility. No excuses.”
Stanford certainly isn’t citing any for last season’s poor three-win campaign. That came on the heels of a seven-win campaign in 2015 when the Sea-Hawks reached the playoffs.
“You can really see a difference in the attitude of the players,” Stanford said. “They’re motivated. They’re hungry. You can see these guys want to play, they want to be a Sea-Hawk.”
The Sea-Hawks, 3-7-2 last season in the Atlantic University Sport conference after going 7-5-1 the year before, averaged a goal per game in 12 starts last season. Expect an improvement in that department with the addition of Tyler Kirby, who netted 14 goals for Holy Cross in Challenge Cup play this summer.
Between Kirby and MUN returnee Tyler Forsey, the Sea-Hawks had a combined 35 goals in Challenge Cup.
Forsey, who played for Mount Pearl this past summer, won the Golden Boot in provincial play with 21 goals.
“Our offence,” Stanford said, “I would think will be much improved this year.”
Another couple of newcomers are Irishman Ryan Farrell and Mount Pearl’s Michael O’Brien.
Farrell, a midfielder, played club soccer for St. Kevin’s FC in Dublin, and the Blackburn Rovers FC U18 squad. He was a member of the University of New Brunswick team that went to the national U Sports final two years ago.
Fullback O’Brien is a transfer from the University of Ottawa, where he spent the last three and a half years with the Ottawa Fury FC of the Super Y League. O’Brien made the team as a 16-year-old rookie.
Before leaving for Ottawa, O’Brien was standout for Newfoundland teams, and was part of the Atlantic Canada Regional Training Centre program.
“I certainly don’t consider him a rookie,” Stanford said of O’Brien. “He’ll be one of our leaders.”
Jordi Slaney, who had a team-high three goals last season when he was named a second-team conference all-star, is back along with Owen McAleese, a first-team all-star midfielder two years ago.
However, the two are unavailable this weekend as the Sea-Hawks open a new season against the Mount Allison Mounties at home. Game times are 3:15 p.m. today, and 2:15 Sunday afternoon.
Both games are at King George V Park.
McAleese is nursing an injury, and Slaney has academic commitments this weekend.
Braeden Sheppard, who handled the bulk of the netminding chores last season, is back in goal and in tremendous condition, Stanford said.
The intercollegiate soccer season comes quickly after the university’s fall semester opening, but Stanford said the Sea-Hawks have already had over a dozen training sessions.
In the past, teams weren’t permitted to officially work out until the resumption of classes, but that was eventually eased to two weeks prior to the first game.
This year, teams were allowed to start working out three weeks before the season-opener.
“It’s good to get on the field as a group earlier, no doubt,” said Stanford, “but there are still some limitations. The mainland teams usually get in a few exhibition games, but we’re unable to do that (because of travel constraints).”
Memorial Sea-Hawks 2017 men’s soccer roster