By: Simran Sarai, Sports Writer
After being projected to finish first this season, the men’s soccer season has come to a close after failing to advance to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II soccer championships. SFU boasted an impressive record this season, finishing second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC), with a record of 11–5–1. First-place finishers, Northwest Nazarene, automatically clenched a playoff spot by clenching the division. While the three points separating SFU from Northwest Nazarene, kept the Red Leafs from holding a ticket to the playoffs.
Unlike women’s soccer, there isn’t any GNAC championship that sets the stage for the men’s NCAA championship. Instead, it’s a race from the start for the 206 competing NCAA teams to nab a top 10 spot in one of the four super regions. On November 7, the list of 10 teams from each super region were announced, with SFU failing to be voted in to a playoff spot. Now that the season is over, The Peak sat down with first-year team member, Matt Hobson, to discuss his journey to SFU, and his first season as a Red Leaf.
Hobson, a third-year molecular biology and biochemistry major, joined SFU last spring. Although listed as a defender, Hobson says he “plays a little bit of [everything],” stepping in to play as a striker, winger, and full back this season.
“Striker’s new,” he joked. “I hadn’t played there before this year, so that was a surprise, because that wasn’t planned either.”
Hailing from Surrey, BC, Hobson embarked on his soccer journey when he was four-years-old. He played for the Surrey United Soccer Club while attending Fleetwood Park Secondary school. Much like Hobson’s playing style, the soccer swiss army knife was an all-around athlete in high school, competing as a member of his school’s track, cross country, and soccer team. He set his running aside, and went his own way, in fall 2018 to join UVIC’s soccer team, playing out of the USPORTS league that SFU was once a member of.
Just three games into his first preseason as a Vike, Hobson tore his meniscus, sidelining him for the majority of his freshman year. After two years with UVIC, Hobson transfered to SFU at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Determined to continue playing soccer, Hobson joined the Vancouver Metro Soccer League (VMSL) with club team, Inter EDC.
Despite his movement between teams, his soccer experience has been “pretty similar, in a lot of ways,” throughout high school and university. “You have a decent team, and good guys on the team. That part’s always gonna be the same,” he explained. What separates the two is getting to play on Canada’s only NCAA school. “The biggest difference I noticed coming to SFU is the professionalism of it all.”
No stranger to injuries, Hobson also spent his first year as a Red Leaf dealing with a persistent hamstring injury. “For that kind of injury, it’s just what can I do to get it to a point where I’m physically able enough to play.” Half the challenge for Hobson was his mindset. “You can’t stop to think that this is an injury,” he said. “I think if you treat any injury like it’s crushing or the end of the world, it’s the end of your season. That’s the worst thing you can do.”
Talking more broadly about the team’s 2022 season, Hobson expressed the team’s disappointment with having no more games to play. “We wanted to be in the tournament. We wanted to make a run in the tournament, and show the quality of this team and what we were capable of.” SFU’s 11–5–1 finish is a huge step up from the squad’s 9–7 record last season. But Hanson is most proud of the team’s ability to rally in some pretty adversarial conditions. This included the last weekend of games at SFU which were postponed and moved due to a combination of snow and fog atop Burnaby Mountain.
“The last weekend, we had games cancelled or rescheduled three times — we only played two games. Tell me how that works!”
Now that his first season is done, Hobson is already looking forward to the 2023 season, which will also be his last, due to eligibility regulations. In the meantime, he’s ready to wrap up the fall 2022 academic semester and start his next season in the VMSL. “That’s probably the biggest thing, more soccer.”