FREDERICTON – It is one thing to be part of a championship team, but that accomplishment carries extra significance when a player makes key contributions to realizing that goal.
Phoebe van der Meulen, the 19-year-old daughter of Louise Brooker of Summerside, experienced those feelings last weekend.
A 2016 graduate of Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside, van der Meulen is a member of the St. Thomas Tommies, who won the school’s first Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) women’s soccer championship in 17 years.
“We are all ecstatic about it,” said van der Meulen. “To say the whole team is ecstatic is an understatement.”
The Tommies now advance to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) national soccer championships in Halifax, N.S., from Nov. 8 to 11.
“We really want to show what we have at nationals,” offered van der Meulen, a second-year criminology student. “We are thrilled to be going there, and it’s a privilege to be there, especially since St. Thomas has not been there in 17 years.”
Not only did van der Meulen play a strong complete game of 90 minutes at centre midfield in the final, she provided a key play.
After receiving a pass from Sarah Hickman, van der Meulen went “through a couple of players” before making a pass to Moira Kinney, who would go on to score what proved to be the championship-clinching goal just before the 27-minute mark of the first half. That marker gave the Tommies a 1-0 victory over the University of King’s College Blue Devils in Saint John, N.B.
“That was a really great moment, but we still had to keep our heads in the game obviously,” admitted van der Meulen, who also acknowledged the play of Tommies keeper Mary Cronin and her 10-save shutout.
“The team we were playing had some pretty wicked shots, but our keeper made some pretty wicked saves, which kept us in the game (early on),” continued van der Meulen.
As for what she wants to contribute to the team, van der Meulen added, “Each person on the field has their own role, and mine was just making plays and passing to the striker with through balls so they run onto it and hopefully score.”
An indication of van der Meulen’s value and contributions to the Tommies’ success is her selection as St. Thomas’s most recent female athlete of the week.
“It could have went to anyone on the team, really,” said a humble van der Meulen in downplaying the award. “Everyone played their hearts out on the field, and it just so happened they chose me.”
The Tommies’ road to the championship, which included a nail-biting 2-1 overtime win over the Mount Saint Vincent University in the semifinals, was a team effort, emphasized van der Meulen.
“Our team has always talked about resiliency,” van der Meulen went on to say. “Every time we are down or getting tired, we always think back to the word and just knowing we are playing for one another, our coaches and representing our school.”