September 8th marked the beginning of what is going to be an event-filled year of CUE athletics with both men and women’s soccer starting their seasons off at home, taking on the rival: the Eagles from King’s University. It has been eight years since CUE has won a championship in soccer; however, the teams have much potential to reclaim the title in the coming years. As tradition, CUE held a pep rally at noon for the soccer teams, and during this time, I was able to speak with CSA President Ian Lee about why these pep rallies are so important to the CUE community.
Ian said that the rallies “show a connection between all students and our athletes program; athletes are a huge part of the community at Concordia. Because of the size of our campus and the huge size of our athletics program in proportion to it, athletes make up about 10% of our student population. It is important that we show support for them, go to the games, and cheer on our Concordia Thunder.” It was clear during our pep rally that the Thunder spirit was brewing within many new students at the school; however. that fire is not fully lit. It is on our athletes to perform at a high level and give the school something to cheer about.
“I played on four teams outside of Concordia last year,” says Thunder defenceman Michael Mis. “And I train every day. I give it all I’ve got and try to be the best player I can be.”
Mis’ testimony is living proof that these athletes work hard on and off the CUE field. His dedication and devotion and that of all CUE athletes should be respected and praised, but most importantly, it deserves our undying support.
The women’s game all in all was a snoozer. Our Thunder absolutely annihilated the Eagles with a huge 7-0 win to kick of the season with a bang. Jaida Stasiuk earned player of the game honours with a 3-goal performance. “It is good having a big win to start off the season, because it sets a standard moving forward. It scares the opponents, a 7-0 win like we had.” stated Stasiuk after the match.
Head coach Frank Imbrogno gave a statement following the victory in regards to the win and the team moving forward: “This win was important; it sets the tone for the season. These players have worked hard during training camp, so this win rewards them for all their work. I think it sets a precedent moving forward, the standard you need to demonstrate every game to maintain success in this league. I try to have benchmarks when bringing players in. Then you always try to improve on those standards. It is important in a university to get players that are academically capable of success at university, and also players that are able to play the game, and able to be coached and learn and grow. Because at the end of the day, the onus is on them to become players, to mature as leaders in the game. It is very important that they have a learning curve, that they are able to take information and actually demonstrate that and improve game to game year to year. We have about six new players and they are all going to play a key role in our team moving forward. They have added a lot of depth to our team. Our training sessions are better than they have ever been in the past. Our senior players are excited to have a quality group of your players coming up and pushing them. I’m excited to see the growth throughout the season and years to come.”
After the women’s game, it was the men’s turn to take the field. The CUE men’s soccer team is under new leadership as Luca Timoteo from Italy is now assistant coach to Ian Skitch. He had this to say when asked about the transition: “Soccer is different in Canada than in Italy. It is like a different sport. The players growing up in Canada are good players, and that has not always been that way. Soccer in Canada is on the rise; not just in quantity, but quality as well. In the last five years, I have seen more teams and players from Canada playing good soccer. I think this team is trying to go to nationals, but competing is a daily goal.”
The men had a heated close match against the Eagles that ended in a 2-1 victory. The Thunder squandered many opportunities to score, but had solid defence only allowing one goal that was on a penalty kick. Freshman Rene Nederby from Aarhus, Denmark won player of the game honours. “I just arrived in Canada this week, all I want to do is play soccer here. This is a fantastic start to my journey. The guys are very kind to me, they took me in on the first day and made it easy to fit in on this team,” Nederby said.
Having both teams start the season off with a win is an amazing blessing, but what is more inspiring is how our Thunder have welcomed Nederby to a new school and country. After the 2-1 victory over the Eagles, head coach Ian Skitch said that “getting the first win out of the way is always important in a short season. You got to come out of the gate sprinting in ACAC and if you don’t you put yourself in the back foot.”
I’m proud to say that both teams came sprinting out of the gate! I definitely hope to see more of the same as the season continues. Go CUE athletics!