As she enters her second season behind the St. Thomas Tommies’ bench, women’s soccer coach Michelle DeCourcey hopes to get the squad back into the playoffs.
She looks to do that by getting her players to focus on playing consistent soccer for the Tommies’ entire 14-game season.
“It was just a few short lapses that cost us two key games and our place in the playoffs last year,” said DeCourcey.
The Tommies won their first game last year before dropping four of their next five games and eventually picking up three wins and a tie down the stretch.
However, losing both of their final contests left STU three points short of a post-season berth in 2015.
But with a new year, comes a fresh start. The Tommies women’s soccer team has 11 new players this year.
They include keeper Mary Cronin, defenders Mackenzie Cox and Brittany Bertolin and attackers Silvia Fullerton, Olivia Ormand and Phoebe van der Meulen.
“In our first exhibition game against UNBSJ [on Aug. 30], seven of our starting 11 players were rookies,” said DeCourcey.
“This means our pre-season was extremely busy, as we made sure everyone was on the same page and comfortable with the style of soccer and the system we play.”
Not only is DeCourcey expecting big things from the team’s rookies this year, but she said she also hopes to see the veteran players step up and lead by setting examples.
Those six players include Vanessa Pettersson, Amy Sheppard in the backfield and Zoe de Bellefeuille – last year’s team MVP – on the attack.
Fifth-year player Tory Kuhn will join de Bellefeuille in the midfield, with fellow fifth-year Chelsea Leahy providing skill and experience in either the midfield or backfield.
Even though the Tommies failed to make the post-season last year, DeCourcey said, she saw some positives she hopes to build on and improve the team’s rank in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic conference.
“This would see us make the playoffs and have the opportunity to push for a championship.”
With one full season in the ACAA under her belt, DeCourcey said, she now has a better first-hand sense of how the players, conference and season look.
“I have high expectations for the team,” she said. “I look forward to seeing them improve and work towards their goals together.”
In pre-season action, the Tommies played a home-and-home against the UNBSJ Seawolves on Aug. 30 in Saint John and Sept. 2 in Fredericton.
Both contests ended in a 1-1 tie.
“I saw a lot of promise in the team during their pre-season matchups,” said DeCourcey. “I expect they will only get stronger with further challenges.”
The Tommies’ regular season began on the road Saturday against the University of Kings College Blue Devils before the team faced the Mount Saint Vincent Mystics on Sunday.
STU lost 3-0 to MSVU after being edged 1-0 by UKC.
STU’s first home game kicks off Sept. 17, when the Tommies host the Crandall Chargers at 2 p.m. at Scotiabank Park South.
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