Fury shooting for high goals

ROB BRODIE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

Many faces have changed, but the goals remain the same.

In the Ottawa Fury's perfect world, its W-League side would finally claim the North American championship that has eluded it in each of the past four seasons.

And the Fury men's Premier Development League team would make its first playoff appearance in its third go-round in the loop.

That'll be the tasks at hand when both clubs open new seasons this weekend at Carleton University's Keith Harris Stadium. The women kick off against the Hamilton Avalanche on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., while the men play a pair of 6 p.m. matches -- against the Cape Cod Crusaders on Saturday and the Long Island Rough Riders on Sunday.

For the W-League team, there's just one target left. They've made the last four North American Final Fours and were the runners-up the past two seasons. Only a title will satisfy them now.

"To state anything other than that would be wrong because that's how the returning veteran players feel, for sure," Fury owner/CEO John Pugh said yesterday.

The Fury have released five key veterans to the national team residency program -- Diana Matheson, Rhian Wilkinson, Robyn Gayle, Amy Vermeulen and goalkeeper Taryn Swiatek -- but believe they've recruited strongly enough to remain among the league's elite.

"We're very happy with the players we've attracted,'' said Pugh. ''We've brought in some younger players, but they all have international experience."

This year's Final Four will be played Aug. 3-5 in Rochester, N.Y.

On the men's side, it's a bit of a major rebuild, but for different reasons. New coach Chris Roth wants to follow the women's successful blueprint and build a core that can keep the team highly competitive for a number of years. But he has to contend with an under-23 age limit.

"We have only four players back from last year, so we're basically starting from scratch," said Roth. "I wanted to start off with a new team that I could build for years to come. But there's a tradeoff between getting a group of young players and building for the future and the immediate goal, which is making the playoffs. It's going to be tough to do both."

Roth should get an early idea of how talented this team might be. He considers this weekend's opponents "two of the top teams in our division."


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