By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
FC Oshawa’s first playoff drive is now over, but it wasn’t a lost season according to head coach Ron Clarke.
After the local League1 team dropped the first of a home-and-away series Aug. 4 to FC London, they were looking to keep their playoff hopes alive on the road this past weekend.
But they hit a strong defense, resulting in 3-0 loss in front of what Clarke calls a hostile crowd of around 1,000.
According to Clarke, the playoffs were difficult, but the team did meet their goal of making the postseason.
Clarke says he saw a lot of positives out on the field over the course of the year.
“Going into the playoffs, a lot of our senior players had gone back to their US schools, so we had a very young starting 11 go out to play London,” he says.
To Clarke, the series offered a great learning experience for these young players.
He points out London is a very senior team with the all-time League1 goal scorer on their roster in Jade Kovacevic.
“There was just a lot of senior players who’d played in League1 for the last four years, whereas in our starting 11 only two players had ever played League1 going into that match,” says Clarke.
The number of fans forced the young team to learn what it is like to play in a pressure-filled environment.
Clarke believes the scores don’t dictate how well his team played.
“We lost 3-0 in London, but we had lots of chances and we kept it close, so I’d say going into next year, I think we’ll be back in the playoffs again, and our next goal now will be to make it to the next round.”
Heading into next season, Clarke says the team is looking to find at least three more senior players over the age of 23.
“I think that would give us some more stability going later into the season,” he says.
He also hopes to transition the team into more of a possession style of play.
He explains this will come as the team becomes more consistent, and they have more players who only play in League1.
“We had a lot of players who played in multiple leagues – such as the under-21 league, and then got called up, so we’re looking to eliminate the amount of call ups we had this season to become more consistent,” he explains.
The team is in need of another attacking central midfielder and centreback, Clarke says.
“Goalkeeping we’re fantastic, but we didn’t have any senior players in the centreback position this year, so that made us pretty vulnerable on getting scored on,” says Clarke.
If Clarke had to name one player as the team’s MVP this season, he says the honour goes to Sona Makulova.
“She was by far our best player, and the only player to start all 15 games,” he says.
Clarke believes Guilia Giovinazzi has great potential moving forward.
“I think she is definitely a rising star, and next year she’ll be one of our key players,” he says.