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Kirby, Williams return to team; Grant ready for first year after being sidelined by injury in 2018
After plenty of off-season comings and goings, the Memorial Sea-Hawks men’s soccer team is set to begin its 2019-20 Atlantic University Sport season this afternoon as it takes on the Saint Mary’s Huskies at King George V Park in St. John’s.
After a 2018-19 campaign that saw the team go 1-8-3 and finish out of the playoffs in the 10-team AUS conference, the Jake Stanford-coached Sea-Hawks return with a 19-player opening-day roster that lists just five returning players.
Mind you, not all of the replacements are newcomers. After a one-year hiatus, fourth-year forwards Tyler Kirby and Kyle Williams are back with Memorial and should help revitalize a Sea-Hawks scoring attack that produced just five goals in 12 AUS games last season.
But the biggest boost in that regard could come from first-year Jacob Grant, who would have been a Sea-Hawk in 2018-19 if not for a broken collarbone that sidelined him for the season.
Grant finished as the runner-up in scoring in the just-concluded Challenge Cup provincial senior men’s soccer league, netting 16 goals in 18 games.
Grant, Kirby and Williams are all members of three-time defending champion Holy Cross, which will carry the Newfoundland banner at the Canadian men’s championship being held in metro St. John’s in October. So are midfielders Harry Grant and Fomba Fambuleh, who will be especially relied on, given the knock their position has taken, what with graduations of Owen McAleese, Evan Myles and Iain Gamba, and the fact Ranaldo Morris is not on the roster.
Rookie forward Ian Dolomount and defenders Michael O’Brien and Ethan Slaney are the other Sea-Hawks who come from Holy Cross, which is also coached by Stanford. However Cross goalkeeper Sam Hawco, the MVP of the most recent Challenge Cup championship tournament, is not back, while Braeden Sheppard had graduated.
That means the Memorial net will be manned by a pair of rookies, Jacob Dyer, who backed up Sheppard on Challenge Cup runner-up Feildians this summer, and Dylan Crichton, who faced plenty of shots while playing for Paradise in the same league.
While the majority of the Sea-Hawks lineup is made up of locally-produced Challenge Cup players, there is also a real international flavour to the roster, with players from Scotland (Struan MacLean), Denmark (Mads Arland Anderson), Colombia (Juan Rivera), Ecuador (Martin Gardillio), New Zealand (Cameron King) and Argentina (Erick Mathiasen).
MacLean, Anderson and Gardillio are rookies, while Rivera returns after not playing last season. King is in his third year, and Mathiasen, who is in back for his senior year, will be familiar to Challenge Cup watchers as one of the top players with the C.B.S. Strikers.
Game times today and for a Sunday rematch between Memorial and SMU are 3:15 p.m. both days, although the schedule for second contest may be contingent on weather determined by the path of Hurricane Dorian across Newfoundland.
Memorial Sea-Hawks roster
(year of eligibility in brackets)
Jacob Dyer (1), Dylan Crichton (1)
Michael O'Brien (3), Chris Neil (3), Matt Hargest (1), Erick Mathiasen (5), Cameron King (3), Mads Arland Anderson (1), Ethan Slaney (2)
Struan MacLean (1), Juan Rivera (2), Harry Carter (2), Fomba Fambulleh (4)
Jacob Grant (1), Tyler Kirby (4), Kyle Williams (4), Isaiah Power-Smith (1), Alex Dolomount (1), Martin Gordillo (1)