X-Men soccer to focus on ‘silver lining’ of cancelled AUS campaign

File Photo 2019
File Photo 2019

MacDonald reflects on 'reconstructing,' not 'lost' season
by Corey LeBlanc

With fall sports in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) shelved due to the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic, many have used the word 'lost' to describe the cancelled season.

Fourth-year StFX X-Men keeper Seamus MacDonald bristles at the common description.

"As long as we stay focused as a team and have a set goal, I don't consider this upcoming fall season to be lost," the Antigonish native says.

"I would rather call it a reconstructing season because I know StFX – and other AUS teams – will not be treating this time off like a holiday.

"Each team wants to come back [next season] at their best, just like nothing ever happened," he adds.

MacDonald and his teammate Nick Aquino – a fourth-year midfielder from Dartmouth – were "disappointed, but not surprised," when officials announced student-athletes would not be playing conference games this fall.

"All-in-all, of course, losing our season is not what we wanted, but we are going to make the best out of it," Aquino says.

"We are going to continue to grind, work hard and prepare for what next year's season will have in store for us."

When it comes to the 'mood' of players and coaches, MacDonald says "our motivation and drive to be successful has not changed."

He notes the X-Men added "a lot of talented first-years," who he says are "motivated to push our team forward."

"This is huge for us, after losing players – such as Dan Hayfield, Tane Caubo and Ben Herringer – who played such a big role as leaders on our team," MacDonald explains.

Looking on the "bright side," Aquino adds – considering there is a large group of strong newcomers – the X-Men will have more time "to create chemistry on our team."

During the conversation, MacDonald also reflects on a decision facing many AUS student-athletes – whether or not to return for another season in 2021.

"Finish my degree this year and hang up my jersey, or come back for a fifth season and wear it one more time," he offers on his choices.

"After some time of thinking, I made the decision that – if the team was going to be putting in the work during this 'lost' season, I might as well commit to one more year."

Veteran head coach Graham Kennedy is "disappointed" that the X-Men will not have a chance to battle for a conference crown, considering the program has recruited "one of the finest classes in the history of the program."

"We played in the national championship tournament last year – our first appearance since 1997 – and I thought we had a great chance to get back there again this year, and with a very young team," he says, noting he was hoping "to get this young crew bloodied early."

Nevertheless, Kennedy suggests, there is a "silver lining" to the situation.

"We will use the year to grow together, improve in all aspects of our play and then – when we do get back to playing again – we will appreciate it more," he says.