By Duncan Forbes
Let’s start by looking at how the Tigers were doing at this time last season. The women’s team was 6-1-1 and looked nearly unbeatable, outscoring their opponents by a total of 17-5. Bianca Jakisa led the team with three goals, and keeper Taryn McKenna had yet to allow a goal. They’d go on to post a 9-2-2 record after going 3-1-1 in October. Most of the core remained that had won two straight AUS championships and they looked poised to make another playoff run.
The men’s team was 3-2-2 and they were led by the trio of Tyler Lewars, Bezick Evraire and Nathan Rogers who all had two goals apiece. With the exception of their season opener against CBU, where they potted four goals, offence was hard to come by for the Tigers, who scored only nine goals in their first seven games as they were shutout four times. They would catch fire and go unbeaten from September 28, finishing with a 6-3-4 record that was good for third in the AUS.
The new-look women’s side is full of fresh faces along with familiar names that have started to take on more prominent roles with the team. Gone are long-time starters like Bianca Jakisa, Daphne Wallace, Joanna Blodgett, Andie Vanderlaan and Taryn McKenna, who helped the Tigers reach greatness in past years. Now the offence is led by fifth-year transfer student Michelle Yates and Victoria Parkinson, while the defence is anchored by CIS first team all-Canadian Kristy McGregor-Bales.
Second-year midfielder Adelle Goodfellow has made significant strides this year, starting in six of seven games as she looks to establish herself as a key player on the ever-changing Tigers squad.
With all the fresh faces, there have definitely been some growing pains for the Tigers, who have looked disjointed at times as they’ve struggled to put together a consistent effort for 90 minutes.
“The team has started the slowly, but with more consistency and understanding of the roles they are being asked to play, I believe our performance will improve greatly,” says head coach Jack Hutchison. “Our team’s performance has shown flashes of brilliance, and we just need to be more consistent for 90 minutes.”
They currently sit in seventh place in the AUS with a 3-3-1 record, ten points off the lead. Scoring has been a problem for the Tigers this year, something not typical of Jack Hutchison’s squads in previous years. They’ve relied heavily on Michelle Yates, who accounts for three of the team’s eight goals on the season, and they’ll need to get more secondary scoring if they are to be successful later in the season. Their 16.1 shots per game ranks second in the AUS, so they will need to be more opportunistic and capitalize on their chances.
In goal, neither Katie Morgan or Rachel Hunt have managed to establish themselves as the clear-cut starter for the Tigers, as they’ve had shockingly similar stat lines this year:
- Both have started three games
- Hunt has a 1.25 GAA, while Morgan’s is slightly higher at 1.67.
- Morgan has a .688 save percentage this year, while Hunt’s is at 706.
- Morgan’s record: 1-1-1, with two shutouts.
- Hunt’s record: 2-2-0, with one shutout.
The Tigers will try and make the most of a tough stretch coming up in the schedule, as two of their next three games are against UNB and Acadia, who are a combined 9-0-6 on the season. They have the good fortune of being the hosts of the AUS championship this year, and with that they automatically get a playoff berth. The Tigers have been particularly strong at home, having posted a 15-4-4 record at home since 2011.
On the men’s side, the Tigers 2-3-2 record is not very indicative of how they’ve played. The Tigers have struggled with injuries in the first month of the season. Co-captains Mark Hagen and Tyler Lewars have both missed two games, though both are now back.
They started off strong with a convincing 3-0 win against the Mount Allison Mounties at home, which was followed up by a shocking 3-0 loss to the Acadia Axemen in a game where the Tigers dominated the play but couldn’t manage to find the back of the net.
Much like the women’s team, the men’s offence has mostly come from fourth-year star Bezick Evraire. At times Evraire has looked to be playing on a whole other level than his competition, and he always commands lots of attention from the opposing defence. He’s already tallied five goals in seven games this season, already surpassing his total last year of three.
The return of Tyler Lewars to the Tigers frontline will definitely give a boost to their offence as he will try to bounce back from a dislocated elbow he suffered in the first game of the season. Lewars is in his fifth-year with the Tigers and was sixth in the AUS last year with four goals and will look to finish his career on a high note.
The Tigers have been a victim of a great deal of bad luck this season. They’ve yet to field their strongest team because of injuries thus far. Despite the great deal of injuries, they’re fourth in the league in goals per game and are third in goals against per game. They’ve controlled play in almost all of their games, and some games temporary lapses in focus have cost them.
In this week’s loss to the Huskies, the Tigers controlled play almost all game, but they allowed an early goal which forced them to play behind for most of the game. Evraire evened the game late with a penalty kick, but it was quickly negated when the Huskies scored just a few minutes later.
Putting together a consistent 90-minute effort and avoiding injuries will be key for the Tigers going forward. Last year, the Tigers caught fire going 3-0-2 on their way to a third-place finish. Having another October like that will be huge as they look to make the most of a tough schedule.
They’re heading on the road this weekend to face l’Universite de Moncton and UNB. From there, they will have a pivotal three-game stretch against Acadia, UPEI and StFX before finishing up against the last-place Memorial Sea-Hawks.
This year’s AUS championship will be slightly tougher given the fact that Memorial is hosting. This year’s Memorial squad does not look to be a playoff-calibre team, though they will earn an automatic spot in the championship. That being said, it’s most likely that only the top five teams will get the other playoff berths.