The St. Thomas University men’s soccer team lost at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Nationals in Prince Edward Island after waiting 18 years to get there.
Third-year player John Hunter said Nationals was on the team’s radar before the regular season began.
“Before the season had even started, we made a list of team goals that we were looking to achieve and the very first point was to make it to Nationals,” said Hunter.
This is the first time since 2000 that the team made it to Nationals. Fourth-year player Eric Prior said getting to Nationals was a team effort.
“We knew the goals that we set out for ourselves and our whole team was on board with where we wanted to be [in] November,” said Prior.
Head Coach John-Ryan Morrison knew he had prepared his team for Nationals.
“We spent time reviewing our team’s lead focus points and goals for the tournament and reiterated that they earned the spot to be there and go out and enjoy the experience,” said Morrison.
“Our strategy was to not worry about the other teams and focus on what we do well, which is defend.”
The Tommies faced the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Ooks in their first game of the tournament. They lost 7-0.
“The first game was an eye-opener for most of us. We lost heavy because we didn’t stick to the fundamentals and the nerves definitely got to us,” said Prior.
In the quarter-final bronze metal game the Tommies faced the Langara College Falcons. They upped their game, but still fell short to the Falcons 1-0.
“We didn’t really change anything. The boys got the nerves out of their system and we started to play the way we have all year,” said Morrison.
The Tommies faced Holland again in the following game. The teams battled in a placement match and the Tommies fell short once again, the Hurricanes taking home the win 3-2.
The Tommies returned home without a banner.
“It was a great turnaround season going from the bottom of the pool to entering the next season with a National ranking,” said Hunter.
“Nationals were an exceptional experience for the team that showed us a stronger level of competition and that our bar can be raised.”
Prior said he was pleased with how the season went.
“The boys should be proud of themselves as we deserved every win and every chance that came to us,” said Prior.
“I think I speak for our whole team when I say that we are banner-chasing. ACAA champs 2019-2020.”