Seniors lose opportunity to avenge devastating playoff loss in 2019
by Corey LeBlanc
Seconds after suffering a shattering loss in penalty kicks in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) quarterfinal playoff action last fall, members of the StFX X-Women soccer program – which had fashioned a stellar undefeated regular season – turned their attention to making amends in the 2020 campaign.
But, because the conference season has been cancelled due to the continuing Covid-19 global pandemic, the White and Blue will not have the opportunity to do that on the post-season stage.
"We were extremely motivated to get redemption this season, especially seeing as we only lost two players so most of our squad was going to remain the same," fifth-year wingback Megan Frost says.
The Ottawa native notes the X-Women "trained hard all winter and developed even more chemistry."
"When we first heard the news that there wasn't going to be a season this year, the team was – obviously – devastated, especially the many players we have in their fourth and fifth years," Frost adds.
All-Canadian sophomore forward Amanda Smith says the wiped out season was "very heartbreaking and disappointing."
"As athletes, these few months of the season are what all our hard work comes down to, especially coming off a great season last year with a lot of new players. We thought that this year could have been our year," Smith, also an Ottawa native, offers.
Sophomore defender Sarah Lapenseé, who is also a product of Canada's nation's capital, describes not having a chance to hit the pitch this season as "extremely devastating," considering the "tremendous amount of hard work and dedication" the X-Women put in preparation for it.
"We were getting ready to be able to compete against the highest-ranked teams in the upcoming season, especially considering the amazing results we had in our previous year," she says.
Head coach Graham Kennedy touches on the success of the program over the four past years, including 2019's no-loss regular season with a veteran-laden roster.
"I am especially disappointed for our seniors who were so disappointed to lose in penalties last year after allowing a late goal in overtime that never should have occurred. They were looking to take back that loss and now they will not get that chance," the 2019 AUS women's soccer Coach of the Year says.
On a personal level, Kennedy notes his regret with not having the chance to coach his daughter, Catherine, for one more season.
"She has been such a competitor for us. I am so proud of her and I have been so fortunate to have her grow up on the field with me," he says.
"It is rare to coach your own child, at this level, and I count myself lucky to have had four years, but I wanted to have one more."
After the "initial reaction" to their missed opportunity, Frost says, the X-Women "tried to change our perspective."
"Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, and thinking about what could have been this season, we are realizing that this could give us an extremely rare chance few teams have ever gotten; not all teams in our league are offering in-person classes, making practicing as a team difficult," she explains.
"We, however, have a full year to get as fit, strong, and technical as possible, without anyone losing eligibility, especially where we have such a young team.
"If we train right this year and develop our younger players, it could give us a big advantage going into the 2021 season," Frost adds.
Even though it has been "hard news to take," Smith suggests the X-Women have "kept our heads high, and continue to improve all aspects of our game."
"I think this season will be beneficial in the sense that we get to work on things we don't usually get to during the season. Incoming players will have a chance to get a feel for the team and, ultimately, it will allow us – as a team – to come together to reach goals, even during these challenging times," she says.
Lapenseé believes this year "will teach us the grit we need to persevere through difficult situations."
"And, we will extend this attitude beyond our soccer team for many years to come," she says.