The Memorial women’s Sea-Hawks soccer team is one of the most complete teams the university has ever known, and their notoriety extends far beyond MUN, and even beyond the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference after a remarkable run last season. Though this year’s results did not quite live up to the lofty expectations players, coaches, and fans a like held for the team as a result of unparalleled successes, the team has done anything but regress.
The Lady-Hawks took the conference by storm in last year’s 2014-15 season, winning the AUS championship and progressing all the way to the national quarterfinals before losing in double overtime to the Fraser Valley Cascades. From the very beginning of this year’s season, the team seemed to be in a primary position to make another deep run into national competition in the Canadian Inter-university Sport (CIS) year end tournament, finishing the regular season with just a single loss over 13 games, and ending the year on a five game winning streak.
Star trio Jessie Noseworthy, Emily Bailey, and Jane Pope, incredible youth talents that stoked the competitive desire with goals and play-making aplenty in the championship season, rounded into form as leaders of a side stacked with potential from top to bottom. Noseworthy’s nine goals led all Sea-Hawks, while her three game winners were second only to Acadia’s Meghan Earle conference-wide. Pope’s four assists, meanwhile, were good enough for joint-top in the conference, while also contributing four goals. Emily Bailey, a rookie who scored ten goals in the 2014-15 campaign, scored an additional five this season for a near perfect follow-up to her blazing start.
All in all, Memorial’s three-pronged attack provided 18 goals for the Sea-Hawks, over half of their 26 goal tally. Doing their duty at the back behind a well-drilled back-line were the top one-two goalkeeper punch in the conference, veteran shot stopper Hannah Noseworthy and heir to the gloves, Keira Evans. Noseworthy and Evans shut out the opposition in seven of their 13 games, allowing just eight goals combined for an average of 0.62 goals a game. Entering the playoffs, the Sea-Hawks seemed impervious from both an offensive and defensive perspective, their only loss coming at the hands of the second place Cape Breton Capers in a 2-1 reversal of their previous match-up.
After a comfortable opening round 4-0 win over sixth seed Moncton, the Sea-Hawks ship ran aground against their nemesis. Midfield stalwart and veteran leader Hannah Rivkin tracked AUS lead scorer Karolyne Blain well when she was not bracketed by the two Memorial centre backs, keeping her lethal shots manageable for Evans in goal. However, one mistake in the 52nd minute allowed Capers number nine Kara MacKinnon the opportunity to snatch a goal just outside of Evans’ reach. Despite a valiant effort to claw themselves back into the game, opposing shot-stopper Lysianne Trottier stopped all six shots she faced, denying Memorial at a chance at repeating as champions. The Capers would prevail in a 1-0 final over the first place Axewomen to claim the trophy.
Despite the disappointment of crashing out of the playoffs in the semi-finals, it’s hard to see where Memorial could improve for the upcoming season. Offensively and defensively, the Sea-Hawks remain one of the conference’s strongest teams on paper, and the losing experience is, for Coach Mike Power, merely a stronger motivator. In announcing the early recruitment of local soccer star Nicole Torraville, a precocious midfielder who is a provincial and Atlantic all-star and Canada Games alumna, Power hopes to improve a suffocating central unit and give the team the cutting edge they need to remain a force in the highly competitive AUS. Whatever further tinkering Power has in mind, next year’s version of the Memorial women’s soccer team is one to keep an eye on.