KAMLOOPS — July 21, 2016. That was the day Thompson Rivers University was awarded the 2017 U Sports Canadian University men's soccer championship.
After four years of building the program and 16-months of preparation to host the nation, the time has arrived.
"It didn't really start hitting in until this week", says WolfPack head coach John Antulov.
There have been a lot of firsts for the program --- a first ever playoff, a first playoff win, a first Canada West medal, and a first Canada West player of the year.
Now comes the biggest challenge, on home pitch, against the rest of the best in the nation.
One of those being the York University Lions, the WolfPack's first opponent on Thursday.
The Lions are loaded with experience. This is their 5th straight year at nationals. They won two years ago.
York does it at both ends of the field --- scoring an OAU high 50 goals in 16 games and giving up the fewest with just 11.
Coach Carmine Isacco says numbers mean nothing once you get to nationals.
"It's one game and historically the national championship has been tough", says Isacco.
Antulov has seen the York Lions live and on video and says "they're really good front to back."
For two seasons the WolfPack have tried not to look ahead to nationals in 2017 ---- but now they can look forward, after one more sleep, to the biggest weekend of their WolfPack careers.
"It's exciting" says 5th year forward Ryan Glanville, who is playing out his university eligibility.
The WolfPack are looking forward to large crowds for their games.
"From a confidence standpoint ---- to have that support is going to be huge for us, and that will lift us", says coach Antulov.
The WolfPack's first game, against the York Lions, is 5pm Thursday at Hillside.
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