CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - It happens most years for the UPEI Panthers men’s soccer team. Some fifth-year senior plays his last regular season home game.
This year, it’s fullback Jeff Moore and striker Lucas Holmes. The duo face Memorial (4-4) Saturday when UPEI (4-5) play host in the Atlantic University Sport contest in Charlottetown. Game time is 3:15 p.m.
For Holmes, winning Saturday’s matchup matters as much for the post-season chase as it does his final run on the UPEI turf.
“It means a lot. Not only my last game at home, it’s a team thing where we need this win for the chance at playoffs,” said Holmes, 21, who has three goals in his 44 games with the Panthers. “Definitely came into his year with a little more drive, in my last kick at the can.”
Like Holmes, the 22-year-old Moore joined the team in 2013.
As a rookie he saw little playing time, but worked his way up to starting fullback (38 games and counting) and team captain. And both were part of the Panthers national bronze medal-winning team in 2014.
“This has been definitely a game I’ve been looking forward to in my last year. I think I’ve played for some good teams, became captain, that was something I wanted to do,” said Moore, who also has three goals in his 58 total games played, adding there are several lessons learned over the years. “Teamwork, the importance of leadership on a team. Just doing the little things, seeing what we can achieve as group.”
Game-wise, a win could vault from seventh to third depending on how the rest of the weekend’s games pan out. Last season the Panthers were ousted in the first round by St. FX so the drive to get past that loss is high.
But regardless Holmes understands the game is a game but what he’s learned is lasting.
“And more so the relationships you build when you’ve gone through the program. (Friendships I’ll have) for the rest of my life.”
Both graduate with business degrees in the spring.
The Panthers women’s team (4-4-1) host Memorial (4-1-3) Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Panthers men’s squad wrap the regular season next weekend at Acadia and Dalhousie.
Cape Breton hosts the AUS championship Nov. 2-5 in Sydney, N.S.