It was an emotional day for the Thunder men’s soccer team as they kicked off their season on Sept. 9, with a 2-0 defeat to Durham in a game dedicated to their late captain, Alex Asmis, who died in April as a result of a severe car crash.
The game was the Thunder’s first since Asmis’ death and included various symbolic moments throughout. This included black bands that will be worn on the right arm of each player for every game this season.
“The parents (of Asmis) came out and put the armbands on the starters,” said Martha Peak, the athletics administrator for the Student’s Association. “We also did the one minute of applause at the 22-minute mark.” 22 was the number Asmis wore on the field.
The game was an emotional event for all involved, especially the Thunder players and coaches who knew him best.
“It meant a lot,” said Thunder head coach Mike Gagliano, who coached Asmis for four years. “It was our first time back on the field as a unit in a full regular season game and it was the first time we’ve been without Alex in four years. I had a heavy heart and I know a lot of the guys had a heavy heart playing. It’s too bad the result wasn’t in our favour, but it was a special one.”
The game was close for the first 20 minutes, with both teams battling for possession and garnering chances in front of the net. However, it was Durham who struck first when Lords player Bruce Cullen scored just seconds before the scheduled one-minute applause at the 22nd minute.
Lords player Kevin Thibodeau then added a second goal not long after in the 34th minute, giving Durham a 2-0 lead that they carried into halftime.
The Thunder came out strong in the second half, controlling play and creating chances, coming as close as bouncing the ball off of the crossbar from a free kick. However, the Durham defence proved too much. The Lords held their lead and the game finished with the same score it had going into halftime.
The loss ended the Thunder’s regular season winning streak that they held all through last season, going an impressive 10-0 in conference play.
“I don’t think we moved the ball very well,” said Gagliano after the game. “All in all, I think it was very lackadaisical.”
The Thunder’s next game is on Sept. 16, at Seneca College, and the week leading up to that game won’t be an easy one for the team.
“We (need to) get back to the training ground and put our work boots on and start digging in,” said Gagliano. “We obviously got outworked today which I think was a big issue. Hopefully guys can recognize that and put a little more effort in when it counts.”