MSOC: Timberwolves add physical, sturdy defender Matteo Cuzzetto to program
The University of Northern British Columbia Men’s Soccer team has looked to Thompson-Okanagan to bolster the backline, officially announcing the commitment of rock solid defender Matteo Cuzzetto for the upcoming 2023 Canada West season, and beyond.
“This is really exciting. This has always been a dream of mine, since I was younger, to play at a higher level. I am really looking forward to it and hoping it will be a good time.”
The Kamloops product visited UNBC’s Prince George campus in March, where he toured the facilities, familiarized himself with the Northern Sport Centre, trained with the Timberwolves varsity roster, and learned from reigning U SPORTS Coach of the Year, Steve Simonson.
Cuzzetto, who plays his club soccer with the KYSA Blaze Select for coach Mark Bell, points to his visit as crucial in his decision to join the TWolves in the highest level of university soccer in the country.
“They were very welcoming. I enjoyed it a lot. There was good intensity throughout the practice and they kept motivating me and giving me pointers. I have played against players at a top level, going to combines. This is definitely a competitive recruiting class to compete with, but it is exciting.”
Built sturdy physically, with the willingness to make contact early and often. With the ball at his feet, the 18-year-old makes quick decisions and is intentional in his distribution. During Cuzzetto’s visit to UNBC, Simonson was extremely impressed by the center back’s overall game, as well as his readiness to take on the top scorer in the country, TWolves striker Michael Henman.
“We are really excited to welcome Matteo to our program. Matteo is a very solid defender. During his visit to UNBC he was faced with the unenviable task of stopping Michael Henman but displayed he could already handle the physicality of one of the best strikers in the league. He has a major upside and I look forward to watching him grow into a strong Canada West defender.”
The six-footer players his high school soccer with St. Anne’s Academy, where has served as team captain for the 2021 and 2022 ‘A’ Okanagan Champions. The 2022 BC Catholic School First Team All-Star knows there will be an adjustment when he makes the leap to the Canada West level, but is ready to push himself to make the transition.
“I am a center back, but I also like a bit of offensive movement. I like to ping a long ball every once in a while, and I’d say my passing ability and vision is definitely one of my strong points. On the defensive end, I like to play very physically and try to get into a tackle early. I am not afraid to get down and slide tackle somebody.”
With a 4.0 GPA and Principal’s List standing, Cuzzetto will graduate from St. Anne’s in June, and enroll in UNBC’s Bachelor of Science program, focusing on Wildlife & Fisheries. He will join his new Timberwolves teammates for training in Prince George in July, and continue a soccer journey that began when he was four years old.
“Soccer has been a part of my life since I was young. My whole family is soccer oriented. They have always motivated me and I have watched them since I was a little kid. I am very excited. It will be nice playing out of town, but also going back home to play against Kamloops and in front of fans I know.”