The St. Thomas University men’s soccer team kicked off the 2023-2024 season this past weekend in an exciting doubleheader, featuring a 2-2 draw against the University of King’s College Blue Devils and a nail-biting 1-0 victory against the Mount Saint Vincent Mystics.
In a post-game interview, coach John-Ryan Morrison expressed his satisfaction with the team’s performance.
“We have a really strong team, we have ranked top 10 in the country for the last four years so those are games we’re hoping and expecting to win every week,” said Morrison.
Midfielder Elias Stiphout scored two goals against the Blue Devils and helped seal the win against the Mystics, earning himself Tommies Athlete of the Week honours.
The game against UKC was a rollercoaster of emotions, with STU initially falling behind before mounting a thrilling comeback.
Morrison described Stiphout as “a standout player the whole weekend.”
In their second game against MSVU, the Tommies defence stood strong, holding their opponents at bay for the full ninety minutes. Josh Oakes had a jaw-dropping goal, made possible by Stiphout’s corner kick in the dying minutes of the game, to secure the win.
After previously missing a penalty kick, Stiphout says the team helped to cheer him up, and boost him towards the game-winning assist.
“That felt like redemption,” said Stiphout.
Speaking of redemption, Stiphout says his expectations for the season are very high.
“All the guys still have last year’s finals in our heads, and we want to redeem ourselves.”
The men’s soccer team also celebrated the addition of ten new players to the squad. With a revamped roster, the team is setting the stage for a promising season ahead.
Mees Van Nouhuys, one of the new players – who, according to Morrison, played almost every minute of both opener games – shared his thoughts on the team’s chemistry.
“I was afraid of moving to Canada away from my family but from day one, I felt welcomed and supported by the team,” said Van Nouhuys, originally from the Netherlands.
“It’s incredible how quickly we’ve bonded both on and off the field.”
Though he wasn’t a member of last year’s playoff run, Van Nouhuys is motivated as ever to reach the finals once more, and win.
“It’s just a little bit of extra motivation. If there are many students supporting us, it’s a great feeling and will give us that extra 10 per cent,” he said.
Co-captain Chidubem Nkoloagu welcomed the newcomers with a grin of enthusiasm and expressed his optimism for the upcoming season.
“It feels great to have new additions to the team that want to win as much as the returners and want to contribute to the overall goal,” he said.
Nkoloagu’s experience has made guiding these new faces a comfortable role for him.
“The responsibility isn’t that hard of a thing because it comes with being an older player on the team that has experience within the team dynamics and the league.”
The Tommies soccer team will be facing the UNB Saint John Seawolves this upcoming Wednesday, Sept. 20 in an exciting home doubleheader alongside the women’s soccer team.
Nkoloagu invited all fans and students to join them at the Tommies home games.
“It’s always a fun time and a fun environment for everyone,” he said.
As they celebrate their successful season opener games, they set their sights on the rest of the year with renewed determination to make a strong run for the championship.