Last year's modest goals have turned into this year's very real expectations for the Port Moody Gunners.
The Fraser Valley Soccer League premier club is coming off a season that featured two Cup appearances, a provincial tournament berth and a top-three placement in league play.
Despite that success, there were no trophies to show for it.
For that reason alone, the goals have to be re-set.
"Realistically, with what we did last year, I think we've raised the bar this year to the point where we have to win something this year," said Gunners coach Larry Moro. "Our aim now is not top three, our aim now is to win the league."
The Gunners advanced to the Soccer City and Pakenham Cup finals last season and lost to Abbotsford in both contests. They also bowed out of Provincial Cup play before reaching the quarterfinal stage.
So far this season, the club has earned a win and a loss, and the two games were case studies in contrasting results: last week's 3-2 loss to North Delta saw far too many missed opportunities, while the opening week 6-0 trouncing of Guildford United featured virtually every shot finding the back of the net.
"That first game was an ideal first game for us," Moro said. "We got to do what we wanted to do - we executed well and finished well. In the second game, we had the better scoring chances and more numerous ones. Realistically, it wouldn't have been a surprise if it ended 5-3 for us. But the bottom line is we didn't bury those couple of really good quality chances that we had. And they did."
That the club is plagued by injuries doesn't help much. Starting netminder Brad Taverna is out long term with a broken bone in his foot, while three other players are listed as week-to-week with an assortment of hip flexors and other nagging ailments.
Despite those injuries, the club does feature a mix of veteran savvy and youth to keep the boat afloat. Midfielders Kevin Comeau and Chris Attadia will be expected to carry the burden of work in the middle of the park, while Isaac Mendozza will be shouldering most of the offensive load.
The backline will be shored up via Dave Robson and Grayson Corney.
"We made a concerted effort to get a bit younger, but our core of about six or seven guys who have been with us for a few years now, is still in tact," Moro said. "I think we've got a nice blend of youth and experience. Now it's a matter of us all playing together."
And while youth will be served on this year's club, it will have to come in measured
doses, particularly with younger players taking to the pitch in their first premier league season.
"No matter what level you go up, every step is just a bit quicker," Moro said. "Some of the u-21s had lots of time to play with the ball in the past, whereas in the premier league, that doesn't happen. They have to adjust to the speed of the game, in terms of how much time they have on the ball."
The Gunners take on Langley today (Friday).
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