SOU soccer players get more than a win out of conference tournament

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(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University men’s soccer team, in just its third year of existence, had a weekend its members won’t soon forget at the Cascade Conference Championship in Eugene.

They’ll remember winning the tournament, too.

But it wasn’t their overtime win in tournament’s final game on Monday that provided the biggest buzz for SOU’s team members. It was the gesture by three SOU players, who met a Special Olympics goalie – Trevor “T-Bone” Novak – at a soccer clinic the previous day and fulfilled his lifelong dream by arranging for him to be “in goal” at the start of Monday’s championship game.

A player for SOU’s opponent, Salem’s Corban University, dribbled the ball toward SOU’s goal and kicked the ball toward Trevor – who successfully blocked the shot.

“The awesome part of this event was what Trevor said as he was leaving: ‘I now have 25 new brothers and this has been the best day of my life,’” SOU Coach Biniam Afenegus said. “What an experience for Trevor, but more so for my players. They were talking about Trevor on the bus all the way home.”

A few of SOU’s players began talking with Trevor during Sunday’s Special Olympics soccer clinic – an annual event organized by tournament host Northwest Christian University and the four teams scheduled to play in Monday’s men’s and women’s final games. Trevor mentioned that his lifelong wish was to play goalie in a college game.

SOU players Michael Miller, Sean McManamon and Junior Rivas later talked with NCU’s athletic director about getting Trevor into the start of the following day’s championship game and making the necessary arrangements with the referees.

The plan went off without a hitch, and Trevor sat with the team for the rest of the game and even participate in its halftime huddle.

As a volunteer coordinator for Eugene-area Special Olympics pointed out later, that good karma may have come back around for the SOU team. “The best part of the story is that the SOU Raiders won the championship – maybe their good deed was paid back,” she said.

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