Vernon’s Finlay McPhie will be honoured along with three other seniors as the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack battle the Canada West Pacific Division men’s soccer champion UBC Thunderbirds Sunday at Hillside Stadium in Kamloops.
McPhie, a defender, Mitchell Popadynetz of Nelson, Jason Staiger of Agassiz and Thomas Lantmeeters of Belgium will be given gifts as graduating players at halftime.
All four of these players have made contributions to the development and success of the WolfPack program, including bronze medal wins at the Canada West and U SPORTS Soccer Nationals in 2017.
McPhie was a Canada West second-team all-star last season and the big defender remembers his first match vividly.
“It was a night game against Trinity Western,” said McPhie. “I remember I had pre-match nerves but as soon as the game started I was calm. I think we played pretty well and picked up a scoreless draw. I was happy to get a clean sheet in my first university game against one of the top schools in Canada. It was a good way for us to start our first U SPORTS season.”
McPhie, who lost his father, Neil, to cancer in March 2016, says aside from the medals and the all-star selection, the highlight of his university career was easy to choose.
“I’d have to say scoring a goal in two straight games with my dad in attendance. He was sick and scoring two goals and picking up two big wins with him in attendance that I’ll always cherish as those were the last two matches he ever saw me play. I was proud to give him something to be happy about during such a dark period.
“I’ve come a long way since my first year. I got to play full matches right from the very start and that helped me get to the next level as a player. I’ve learned a lot from John and the coaching staff, not just about soccer but stuff that I can transfer to my adult life.”
McPhie will graduate next fall with a bachelor of business administration degree and plans to start a CPA articling position.
Antulov said McPhie was his very first recruit as he took over the WolfPack.
“He had a fabulous five years in our program and helped lead us from a fledgeling team to one that the university can be proud of,” said Antulov. “He is a tower of strength at the back and an excellent leader. Although a quiet leader, he made his presence known on the pitch. His outstanding year last year with being a Canada West all-star and bronze medal at Canada West and Nationals was a capper to his great career with TRU. He will be sorely missed by the coaching staff and me but will forever be a part of the pack and men’s soccer.”