By: Kajan Thiruthanikasalam
SCARBOROUGH, ONT.- Soccer swept the very first Centennial Colts Athletes of the Month presented to you by: St Louis Bar and Grill as defender Ostap Hamarnyk and midfielder Jessica Friend took home the male and female honours, respectively, for September.
Both athletes have played crucial leadership roles on each of their teams, with Hamarnyk manning the backside and Friend providing an offensive spark.
Read below for a deeper look into the two athletes.
There are many reasons for why Ostap Hamarnyk earned September's Male Athlete of the Month. Since the 2015-16 season, Hamarnyk has been the steady and consistent presence, spearheading Centennial's defense.
"It's pretty hard to get people disciplined with new guys coming in and the flow varies all the time," Hamarnyk said. "But now, this team is organized. We have team meetings and bonding exercises to build up the organization (of the team)."
The Ukrainian native is heading into his last semester at Centennial and as a member of the Green and White, Hamarnyk says that his leadership skills has improved the most for him as the years have gone by.
"I was fresh when I came in. I was a rookie and didn't know the language," Hamarnyk said. "You build up every year and eventually get that confidence and skill level."
Hamarnyk's top moment would ideally like to be for the team to break the "qualifying game" curse and advance to the OCAA Championship stage for the first time in 20 years. But, for now, his top moment would be beating the Algonquin Thunder on the road earlier this season.
"We didn't beat Algonquin at their home for the past 15 years," Hamarnyk said of the historical significance that victory brought to the Colts. "It was huge that we beat them this year; it was exciting."
For most people receiving Athlete of the Month, it would be an honour. For Hamarnyk, however, it would be more than just that.
"It's a motivation; it makes you work harder to get it every single month," Hamarnyk said. "It motivates your teammates as well because you lead by example."
When asked how he would want to be remembered once he moves on from Centennial, Hamarnyk said it would be for a goal that he and the team haven't reached yet but hope to attain once it's all said and done.
"We've always made it to the crossover game before but we can't get past that point; we either lose or stuff happens," Hamarnyk said. "If we make it to provincials, I think that's what we want to be remembered by."
For the first four years of her post-secondary eligibility, Jessica Friend was mostly setting up her teammates at Western University and her playmaking was a threat.
"The intensity is higher and more fast paced (in university)," Friend said of the difference between college and university soccer. "It's a lot more physical; you really have to win your battles because that's what's going to get you to keep the ball."
But the script was rewritten once she came to Centennial. Now, she is spearheading the Colts' offense and is the primary gameplan for opponents.
"It's different. I feel the pressure a little sometimes because I'm used to putting my head up and looking for the opportunity for someone else to score," Friend admitted. "Now I have to remind myself mentally to look at the net more."
The Bowmanville, Ont., native, who is currently taking the paralegal post-graduate program, leads the team with three goals and has provided Centennial with a much needed jolt on the offensive end of the field.
"Coming here, my focus was more to work on those shots and that first touch because if I can control the ball that first time and set myself up for that shot, then I'm going to have a better chance," Friend said of her improved shooting touch.
Friend also says her experiences have allowed her game to grow, which is vital in leading the team to new levels.
"My maturity level and how I look at the game is a lot different because I have that experience," Friend said. "I've been through games, gone to nationals, and played at that level so I'm using that experience to help other girls on the field."
Despite a frustrating season in which Centennial is 0-7-1 on the season, the team, according to Friend, has had more encouraging games in which they have been more in sync and hopes that effort will eventually lead to wins.
"I don't think the outcome really portrays the game because in the harder games, we've come out and played well together," Friend said. "It's our heart and the fact that we want it as a team. We're passing and our communication is up over time; it's just the end result that isn't there for us yet.
When women's head coach Diarmuid O'Connor told her of the Athlete of the Month honour, Friend says she was surprised but grateful.
"I have been working hard," Friend sheepishly admitted. "To come here, be a Centennial Colt, and be the Athlete of the Month is a really big privilege."
Congratulations to both Hamarnyk and Friend for earning the Centennial Colts Athletes of the Month presented to you by: St Louis Bar and Grill once again as they look to continue making a major impact on both of their teams on the road, Thursday Oct. 4, against the Durham Lords.
Special thanks to our partners, St. Louis Bar and Grill, Scarborough. Both athletes will receive a gift certificate to its location at 55 Town Centre Court, Suite #101.