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Late decision to resume playing career paying off for Hurricanes keeper from West Devon

Holland Hurricanes keeper Hayden Porter is shown in action during the 2019 Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) men’s soccer championship at the Terry Fox Sports Complex in Cornwall.
Holland Hurricanes keeper Hayden Porter is shown in action during the 2019 Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) men’s soccer championship at the Terry Fox Sports Complex in Cornwall. - Jason Simmonds

Porter has been a contributor in Holland College's run to CCAA men's soccer championship

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

 Hayden Porter didn't think he would be playing soccer this season.

Two months later, the 2019 Westisle Composite High School graduate from West Devon and his Holland Hurricanes’ teammates are ready to open play at the 2019 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) men's soccer championship on Wednesday afternoon in Oshawa, Ont.

“I wasn't planning on going to school this year,’’ said Porter, 18. “I was planning on farming and working. (Hurricanes keeper coach) Brandon Eagle contacted me and asked if there were any courses I was interested in taking.

“I decided I would get into welding and the day school started I was accepted and decided to play soccer."

It would mark Porter's return to competitive soccer for the first time since May.

“Brandon Eagle works closely with the keepers every day and you could see Hayden grow in confidence and adjust to the league,’’ said Hurricanes head coach Jonathan Vos. “It can be a challenge for an 18-year-old coming in and playing against potentially 23-, 24-year-olds who are well established in the league. There is that period of adjustment and Hayden did well with that.

“We didn't rush him into it and as his confidence grew you could certainly hear his voice the last few games, which is a sign of confidence.’’

Porter, who shared the keeper duties with Devon Griffin during the regular season, allowed only one goal in the semifinal and final games of the 2019 Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) men’s soccer championship during the Hurricanes’ run to the conference title at the Terry Fox Sports Complex in Cornwall in late October.

“We had two really good keepers during the regular season vying for the top spot,’’ said Vos. “They split most of the games throughout the year and, as it went along, Hayden got a little more comfortable in goal, grew a presence as a rookie and kind of established himself as that No. 1 for the final couple of weekends.’’

Steady progression

Porter described his first season with the Hurricanes as a process.

“I started nervously and I didn't know what to expect because I had not played in a little while,’’ said Porter.

“At the start, it was kind of shaky with communication and getting to know where everyone was at, but as the games went on you grew confidence to play the riskier ball that you wouldn’t play at the start of the year. You learned that your teammates would be there to back you up and support you even if you messed up.

“My teammates have been big and brought my confidence level up and that helped me.’’

Porter, who had a 0.50 goals-against average in five regular-season games, described winning the ACAA title as a special moment. He was very happy to share the accomplishment with three individuals close to him.

“It made (everything) so much worthwhile,’’ said Porter, who was named the ACAA male athlete of the week following the conference championship. “My parents (Kevin and Jill MacNeill-Porter) and my girlfriend (Ashley Hustler) were always supportive.’’

Strengths

Vos said two of Porter's biggest attributes are his compete level and ability to communicate with his teammates.

“He is certainly really brave as a keeper,’’ said Vos. “He may not have the most physical presence, but he is very courageous to go into one-on-one attempts or try to gather a cross amongst the players. He’s not afraid to be aggressive.’’

That is a style Porter learned from two people very special to him – his father and late grandfather, Stan Porter, who was well-known in P.E.I.’s sporting community.

“That’s something my father has always stressed to me and my grandfather, who used to play in nets,’’ said Porter. “They always pushed for me to try my best and if you think you can get to the ball work your hardest to get to it.

“It’s always important to give your teammates an extra lift and make yourself an 11th player on the field instead of just being considered a goaltender. It’s important on a corner kick that if you know you can get up there you have to get up for the ball and catch it.

“It gives your teammates a lot more confidence in you and helps them out in the long run.’’
Porter said his grandfather had a big influence on his soccer career.

“When I was younger he was always asking how soccer was,’’ said Porter. “Then, when I started to play nets, he would call after practice and ask me how things went and would give me tips.’’

For example?

“When I started and would go to catch a ball in the air I would not bring my knee up,’’ said Porter. “If you don’t do that now it causes a lot of injuries. He stressed that to me.

“At a young age, I became more advanced in knowledge because of his knowledge of the game.’’

Jason.simmonds@journalpioneer.com

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Holland College opens play at national championship Wednesday

The Holland Hurricanes will open play at the 2019 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) soccer championship on Wednesday afternoon in Oshawa, Ont.
The Hurricanes, champions of the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA), will take on the Red Deer College Kings, representing the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) as the wild-card team.
“I am excited (to play in the nationals),’’ said Hurricanes keeper Hayden Porter of West Devon. “It will be a different game. We are going to have to step up our game and really push and battle for balls because it will be another level.
“It will be a step up and it will be fun. I will just have to be that much more aggressive in net and confident.’’
The Hurricanes finished the ACAA regular season in first place at 11-0-1 (won-lost-tied) while Red Deer College was 7-3-2.
“Every team at nationals is strong competition,’’ said Hurricanes head coach Jonathan Vos. “We want to get some good training in and make sure the boys are mentally ready for battle. We have the players to do it and just have to make sure it comes together.’’


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