In the span of two days, UTM won two championships in Division 1 and tri-campus men’s outdoor soccer. This marks the first time in the history of UTM that both titles have been won in the same year.
To add to this remarkable feat, both teams earned their victories under the guidance of coach Robert Brown.
“It is very special to me to win both of these championships,” said Brown, who will be the head coach of the UTM men’s soccer team at the OCAA level.
Brown has done it all when it comes to UTM soccer. In 2007 as a student, Brown played for UTM, winning the Division 1 title for men’s outdoor soccer, the last team to do so until this year’s squad. Being a coach at UTM since 2008, Brown has had the privilege to break a series of records in his time as coach. The tri-campus men’s soccer team has now won back-to-back championships, another first in UTM’s soccer history. Brown states that his confidence in both of his teams’ ability to win was evident from early tryouts. “Obviously, it’s my goal at the beginning of each season to win the championships,” he states. “I felt very confident that we put together two very strong teams and that we had a chance to be successful in both leagues.”
Though championship games tend to be more nerve-wracking than most, Brown did not foresee the way each final would play out. Both of his teams played extremely close matches that ended up being decided in the second frame of extra time by a single goal.
For Jacob Monaco, a second-year finance major and goalie for the Division 1 squad, the extra time was particularly tense. “As a keeper in extra time, there is an even greater amount of pressure to perform,” he said. “Being the last line of defence, one slip-up would cost us the game.”
Despite the nerves, Monaco felt calm in the final minutes as the momentum shifted in his team’s favour, giving them a boost to score the game-winner and beat New College A 2-1. “When we finally scored and got the win, there was a huge sigh of relief knowing all of our hard work paid off,” he said.
Salem Aboghodieh was thrilled to win a trophy that his older brother had won seven years ago.
“He had the biggest smile on his face,” he said after telling his brother about the win. The fourth-year management major had six goals and five assists in eight games to lead the Division 1 league in scoring, along with a goal and assist in the final. “I owe everything to my teammates, who have been supporting me for the entire season, even when things weren’t looking great.”
The tri-campus game was a little more even; after 90 scoreless minutes, both UTM and St. George Red went into the extra frame in search of the only goal that needed to be scored. Luckily for UTM, that goal came from central midfielder Eddy Dabire.
The situation may seem eerily familiar for UTM fans who watched last year’s championship game unfold. How so? A year ago, it was Dabire who scored the game-winning goal in extra time against the same team to win the tri-campus championship. The game-winner came with about 10 minutes into the extra-time half as UTM received a free kick outside the box.
“I requested a near post cross from free kick taker Johar Fikiri-Chapman,” said Dabire. “Sure enough, he delivered a great ball and I was able to header it past the goalie for the game winner. It was an amazing feeling.”
UTM’s soccer victories bode well for the school that will be upping the ante come 2015 with competition at the OCAA level.
“It is really an exciting time to be in the soccer program at UTM because we are only going in the right direction,” says Brown.
Varsity program coordinator Jack Krist considers this the golden age of soccer at UTM, noting that our campus also won an OCAA extramural coed soccer tournament at Humber to make it three titles in two days.
“This is the perfect time for the move to varsity and the players and coaching staff have worked very hard for this,” says Krist. “The decisions ahead for Robert Brown will be even harder as he looks to select our first-ever OCAA varsity team. With many excellent players from the tri-campus, Division One, and even the UTM Campus Rec leagues, I do not envy his task.
“However, I know that the soccer program is in great hands with our coaches and the dedicated and hardworking athletes at UTM,” he adds.