X-Men striker potted 13 goals on the year to claim honour
As Dan Hayfield heard his name being called for U Sports Soccer Player of the Year, he was genuinely speechless. But for Dan, his performance on the pitch this year was larger than life.
13 goals to lead the team, as well as being named to the U Sports All Star Team to add onto his Player of the Year award.
Dan was born in Exeter, a town in southeast England. He played for Exeter City F.C., a league two club during his teenage years. However, as luck would have it, just as he was to be released from the club, Graham Kennedy (Coach of StFX’s men and women’s soccer teams) happened to be in Exeter and took a liking to Dan’s style of play. StFX was in need of a midfielder that could score, and Dan was looking for a place to study and play. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. He went down for a visit to Antigonish and, to quote Dan, “fell in love with the place straight away.”
After 2 years playing center-attacking-midfielder, Dan was asked to move to striker. It was a great decision as he scored 13 goals in 12 games in the year, leading StFX to a 9-1-2 record. He won not only National Player of the Year, but claimed AUS MVP, as well as being named a U Sports All-Canadian and AUS first team All-Star for the second straight year. Unfortunately, StFX was stymied in the semi-final matchup vs UNB and fell 1-0.
Dan laments that although StFX dominated the ball, UNB’s goalkeeper played unbelievably and some losses you just have to take on the chin.
“The loss will give us even more incentive to win next year, as we have lost in the semi-finals the past two years, but I believe we deserve to be on the national stage”
Dan was able to play for Calgary Foothills Club in the summer, and that opportunity greatly benefited his form and his growth as a player. With regards to his stellar play and team high of 13 goals, which broke the school record for most in a year, Dan remained humble.
“It is my job to score goals and everyone else on the team did their job just as well as I have, so it was a team effort.”
His Player of the Year award was one that felt surreal. He travelled to Kamloops, BC for the award gala and was over the moon to bring the hardware back east.
“It is an award for all of us on the team. Without them I would not have had a good season. It was a really good year, despite not making it to nationals.”
The AUS has had a stellar year for soccer, as CBU won the national title and two players from the AUS were U Sports All Canadians. This goes to show the tremendous growth of the league. It has helped put smaller universities on the map in terms of sporting talent, something that is always nice to see.
Dan was integral to the team success this year, but he stressed just how important his teammates were: “Josh Read, Natneal Tecle, Blake Fenton, Thomas Pieroway were obviously stellar, as they were also named AUS first team All-Stars. There were also guys that I don’t think have been recognized, but should have been. Alex Taylor, Cole Suart and Dustin Benetti were incredible this year and it was bittersweet to see them not get something in their final year as they deserved. But we can’t complain with how many awards our team got this year.”