St. Thomas University men’s soccer team won silver in the ACAA league finals for the first time in nine years with a rookie-team and first-year head coach.
The Tommies travelled to Halifax, Nova Scotia during Halloween weekend to compete in the semi-finals against the Mount Saint Vincent Mystics. They went on to play against the Holland College Hurricanes in the finals Nov. 1.
Head coach John-Ryan Morrison and the coaching staff have been training the Tommies since late August to make sure they were as motivated and prepared as possible.
“The coaches spent a lot of time preparing not only team activities so they would gel quickly, but at the same rewarding those who worked hardest in training with starting spots” said Morrison.
Their efforts paid off when mid-way through the season the Tommies went on a strong five-game winning streak clinching them a well-deserved playoff spot.
When asked what their biggest strength was as a team, both Coach Morrison and second team all-star award winner, Eric Prior agreed their sense of teamwork and compatibility were what brought them to the finals.
“We had no one specific superstar that was depended on,” said Prior. “Everyone worked hard 24/7 and had each-others backs. We played for one another, not for ourselves, which is why we had such great success.”
Going into the semi-final game against Mount Saint Vincent the Tommies were considered the under dogs.
Throughout the regular season they had not been able to come up on top against MSVU which dropped their confidence going into the game.
“The first half showed nervousness and if it was not for stellar keeping Nic Levesque the Tommies would have been out of the game already,” said Morrison.
However the team managed to rally in the second half and took MSVU by storm. “The second half was our best soccer of the year and we dominated possession and created good chance” said Morrison.
In the 88th minute of the game, the Tommies went for a final push and were rewarded when rookie center-back Eric Prior scored off the corner giving the Tommies a 1-0 lead.
The Tommies ended up defeating MSVU with a final score of 1-0 and Morrison feels that in itself was a huge accomplishment.
The next day they competed in the finals for the championship title against season long rivals and 5th ranked team in the country, Holland College Hurricanes.
The Tommies record against the Hurricanes from the regular season was discouraging after watching themselves lose 4-0 in both games. Going into their final game they had some nerves but didn’t let them show on the field.
After going down 1-0 early in the game they quickly responded with a goal scored by Oliver Dussault to leave them tied at 1-1 going into the second half.
STU continued to play aggressively and had created many scoring opportunities for themselves but unfortunately were unable to capitalize on any of them.
The Hurricanes managed to score another goal late in the second half and the game ended 2-1 for the Hurricanes
Although the Tommies were unable to win gold this season they finished far from discouraged.
They will soon begin their first ever winter training program and have high hopes for next year’s season.
When asked if he thinks next year will be the Tommies gold medal season, center-back Eric Prior answered with surety, “Next year we will win the gold, no questions asked, you can quote me on that.”
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