- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Last year it was the start of the St. Mary’s College of Maryland men’s soccer season that paved the way for a total of seven victories, the program’s most wins in a single season since 2008.
The Seahawks and then first-year head coach Alun Oliver won their first four games of the season, but as the season continued, the Seahawks won three of their next 13 contests to close out the season.
This year, Oliver and company want to not only replicate last season’s start, but continue the success past the first four games.
“We’ll take each game one at a time and see where we go,” Oliver added. “It was a great start last year and it would be great to do that [again]. With regards to good starts, obviously we want to win every game, but if we have a great performance heading into conference games, that would be great.”
The Seahawks return their top goal-scorer in sophomore forward Matthew Braun, who scored a team-high four goals last season — tied with two teammates whom the Seahawks lost to graduation.
“To repeat [the hot start], we’re going to have to keep working hard in the preseason like we have and keep that drive,” Braun added. “To keep it going … we have to stay together as a group and work as a possessive type of team.
“I just think it’s as simple as focusing and maintaining the little things. We can’t get arrogant, I guess. It’s about sticking with who we are, working hard and grinding it out. That’s how we won those first four games.”
However, both Oliver and Braun have admitted that this year’s season is not simply concentrated around winning the first four games but more so around the later part of the 2012 campaign.
“The mission here is to make the playoffs,” Braun said. “Once you reach the playoffs, then you can try to make a splash because in the playoffs anything can happen.”
Helping that mission will be junior goalkeeper Austin Brown, who started 16 games for the Seahawks last season in the nets.
Brown admitted that the Seahawks will rely on a certain aspect within the team to not only win the first four games and not only maneuver through the Capital Athletic Conference schedule, but to advance to the playoffs.
“I think the friendship and the family-like [atmosphere] on the team is great and, through the three years I have been here, it’s always been a tight-knit group of guys,” Brown said. “We can all rely on each other and that’s my favorite thing about it.”
The Seahawks will begin their season Aug. 31 against Richard Stockton (N.J.) in the Elmer Lord Classic tournament at Salisbury University. St. Mary’s tied with Salisbury for the title last year, as each team won its two games and each school finished with a plus-five goal differential.
The Seahawks’ first home game will come on Sept. 8 in the Seahawk Classic as they host Bridgewater (Va.).
The first CAC game is at Marymount (Va.) on Sept. 15 and the first CAC home game will bring in Wesley (Del.) on Sept. 22.
“It was a great experience for my first year in getting the most wins we have had in about five seasons, which was good,” Oliver said. “We built on some of the goals that we wanted to achieve. This year, I feel more comfortable.”