There are no guarantees, but there’s a very good chance Memorial University’s men’s soccer team will be playoff bound should it come away with a pair of wins this weekend on home turf.
The problem is, however, the Sea-Hawks are limping into their last two regular-season games on the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) 2017 calendar. They’re tied for the sixth and final playoff berth with UPEI, and are just one point ahead of the seventh-place team, which just happens to be Moncton.
Memorial is 1-5-1 in its last seven games, and has scored only two goals in its last five.
The Sea-Hawks will play host to Moncton 7:15 tonight and 2:15 Saturday afternoon. Both games are at King George V Park in St. John’s.
The 4-5-1 Sea-Hawks do have 18 goals on the season, but that number has been padded by an 8-0 win over Mount Allison University earlier in the year.
“Even over the last five games,” said Sea-Hawks coach Jake Stanford, “we’ve been finding ways to get behind defenders. The two Tylers (strikers Tyler Forsey and Tyler Kirby) are getting their chances, but for whatever reason, we have not been getting the bounce, and the ball isn’t going in.”
Despite the drought, Forsey is still third in AUS scoring with seven goals, while Kirby has four goals.
Memorial is coming off a scoreless tie with UPEI, and a 2-1 loss to Acadia last weekend on the road.
Preferring the glass to be half full, Stanford says there was only one game in the last five that got away from MUN, a 5-0 loss to UNB late last month at King George V.
The other four contests were one-goal games.
“That UNB game, you can only chalk it up to one those ‘stuff happens’ games. Everything went their way.
“We came back and deserved to win the next one (1-0 for the Sea-Hawks). Games are tight at this level, and the further you get into the season, the tighter they are. Every game is videotaped, which means every coach sees every game. You might get away with not knowing about a team early in the year, but as you go along through the season, every coach knows each team’s strengths and weaknesses.
“That said, we’ve been right there in every game, and the guys are still feeling very positive.”
Stanford said with the regular season closing out at King George, the Sea-Hawks carry their destiny in their own hands.
Each of the Memorial players, he said, has been through pressure situations before, as all or most have been involved with Challenge Cup play.
“Tyler Forsey and Tyler Kirby have been marked man-to-man, or have even had two men on them all season,” Stanford said. “They know what to expect.
“The spine of our team — Forsey, (centre midfielder) Jordi Slaney and (centre back) Alex Pretty — they’re all fifth-year players and I know to they want to make sure our season is prolonged.”
The Dalhousie Tigers are one point up on the Sea-Hawks and Panthers. There is even a possibility the Sea-Hawks could finish fourth. Currently, Acadia is in fourth place with 17 points, four ahead of Memorial and wins are worth three points each.