By Sarah Tone, Communications Coordinator

Team Manitoba soccer has not one but two incredibly talented goalkeepers. It’s to the point that their coaches can’t decide on which one to make their go-to starter. Instead, both keepers are getting time on the pitch at the 2022 Canada Summer Games.

Jacob Tsai, 18, and Tryce Vergara, 17, both discovered their love of soccer from an early age. Jacob started playing at five years old and Tryce at six.

“My dad has always been involved in soccer,” Vergara said. “He told me to try it, so he signed me up for Timbits, and I’ve been hooked ever since. The way a win makes you feel is just amazing, and you can’t replace it with anything else. Soccer is my sport. It’s what I do. It’s a part of me – it’s who I am.”

Vergara has aspirations to play in Major League Soccer (MLS) or the Canadian Premiere League (CPL) but also sees himself playing at the U SPORTS level, so he can attend university while continuing to play soccer.

Tsai said soccer has led to connections and friendships that’ll last forever. It has also led to once-in-a-lifetime experiences, including the Canada Games.

“It’s something special, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” said Tsai. “It would be nice to continue playing at a high level, but we’ll have to see what comes next. Obviously, I’d love to coach once I’m past my prime because goalkeeper is a special position. There aren’t many of us out there, and I’d love to inspire some younger people to pursue being a goalkeeper and enjoy it as much as I do.”

Tsai and Vergara play out of different clubs in Winnipeg – Tsai with Bonivital Soccer Club and Vergara with Winnipeg South End United Soccer Club – but they’ve grown up admiring each other’s skill in the net.

Tsai wouldn’t choose anyone else with whom to share playing time. He’s honoured to experience the Canada Games with Tryce as the other keeper.

“It’s tough because only one of us can play, and you want to be the one to play,” said Tsai. “With Tryce, we have a special connection because we understand each other.”

Vergara had similar sentiments for his teammate. Vergara also noted Tsai is a well-respected goalkeeper in the Winnipeg soccer community and has always admired him.

“Working with Jacob is amazing. Growing up, I looked up to him as an inspiration to become better,” said Vergara.

Vergara and Tsai also have new-found motivation with Valour Football Club of the Canadian Premiere League taking root in Winnipeg. Tsai has a developmental contract with Valour FC, and Vergara is excited about the opportunities the club brings to Manitoba soccer.

“It’s bringing motivation to the community,” said Vergara. “The Valour players come out and watch, support teams, inspire the little kids to go play, and the (soccer) community has been getting better and better since the CPL has been built.”

Team Toba hits the pitch this afternoon at 4:30 PM CST