Defensive role in Hinde sight

Nick Solari

Simon Hinde was born to be a captain.

Growing up in Canberra, Australia, Hinde played for Wooden Valley FC, an ACT Premier Club squad near his hometown. He began playing with the club at merely five-years-old, and as he rose up in the ranks, his coaches began to notice his knack for leading. Hinde had great success with the club, and would eventually become a two-year captain and an MVP.

The part that stands out is not in the form of any title or accolade. During his final two years with the team, Hinde became captain of the team, rendering him a leader for some men almost double his age.

“I was leading guys who were 28, 29, some even 30,” Hinde said. “I personally thrive on being captain. I enjoy just trying to give my teammates positive energy, and motivating them when they need it.”

When Quinnipiac men’s soccer head coach Eric Da Costa was first introduced to Hinde two summers ago, the coach saw a field general in the making. He had the complete package of skills to become a great player, but there was something else about Hinde that caught his eye.

The midfielder had a positive attitude, noticeable to everybody around him.

“He’s almost a perfect leader,” Da Costa said. “Off the field he gets along with everyone, he’s got a great personality, and he’s approachable.”

What the ninth-year head coach sees from Hinde during games, however, might be even more important than what he provides off the field.

“He’s the biggest competitor that we have on the team,” Da Costa said. “When you’re not at your best, or you’re not giving your full effort he’ll get on you and he’ll let you know that. He provides that fire.”

Pointing to those reasons specifically, Da Costa said making the senior his captain for the upcoming season was an easy decision.

“He has everything,” Da Costa said. “He’s got vocal leadership, he leads by example and he’s real likable. I really believe that he’s good friends with everyone on the team, which is important. I think they respect him, and they enjoy being around him.”

His teammates, like his coach, notice how much Hinde enjoys the responsibility he has been handed.

“We’re both from down under, and we’re very similar with our attitudes,” said Ashton Pett, junior defenseman from New Zealand. “We may not be the best players, but we work our ass off in training, work hard in games, and never give up. That’s the captain you want, and we’ve got one with Simon.”

Hinde says that becoming a captain at Quinnipiac was something he had his eyes set on from the first day he arrived last year.

“I wanted that role as soon as I got here,” Hinde said. “It’s just the way I am.”

Becoming a captain in a pivotal year for the program is not the only thing Hinde is doing to help out the team. As the Bobcats have made a move to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Hinde has
taken on an expanded scoring role for his squad.

Last year, the 6-foot-1, 173-pound midfielder had only one goal in 17 games. This season has been much different, as Hinde has already netted five of the team’s seven goals.

“When you graduate 75-80 percent of your goals, you look to get some goal scoring from other places,” Da Costa said. “We knew that moving him up would allow him to get better looks at goals.”

Last season, Hinde was a midfielder with a defensive-minded role. His job, as Da Costa explained, was not to help out scoring as much. This season Hinde’s coach let his captain take on more of a scoring role, allowing him to get much more looks on net.

“Coach has put me in more of an attacking position,” Hinde said. “Last year I sat back and had more of a defensive role, and Robbie [McLarney] did the scoring from the midfield position. Everything is a bit more comfortable for me this year.”

“The fact that he’s converting, that’s all him,” Da Costa said. “He’s staying composed, he’s not succumbing to any of the pressure, and he’s doing exactly what he’s capable of doing.”

Hinde’s goals have come at pivotal times as well. Quinnipiac currently stands at 2-3-4 at the midway mark of the season, and Hinde has netted the game-winner in both victories.
The first came on Sept. 14, when the Bobcats played host to Holy Cross. Tied late in the game, Hinde blasted a 79th-minute penalty kick into the bottom-right corner of the net to break the tie. Quinnipiac went on to win the game 1-0, its first of the young season.

“Simon is cool under pressure, you might as well call him ‘ice man’ in that situation,” Da Costa said after the game.

Though his scoring has increased this season, Hinde’s composure is still the first thing that comes to his coach’s mind.

“Human nature is that you get nervous in certain situations,” Da Costa said. “I’m sure he had some butterflies as he stood over the penalty kick, but good players find a way to put that aside and focus on the task. I don’t think there is much that rattles his cage.”

Hinde credits the success late in games to his work ethic.

“A lot of times after training, I stay back and work on my shooting,” he said. “I’m a bit more relaxed with the ball. I work day in and day out to try to get better. It’s up to me to put the goals away sometimes.”

His second game-winner came on Sept. 29, when the Bobcats traveled to Yale and defeated their non-conference rival, 1-0. Again, Hinde provided the lone goal in the match. This time, however, the goal came only six minutes into play.

“He’s got the experience,” Da Costa said, looking back at that match. “He gets some great opportunities and he’s calm under those circumstances because he’s seen them before. He has a lot of trust in his own ability, and he really came up big that match.”

For Hinde, it all leads back to his human nature: the passion to lead.

“As a captain, it’s just part of my responsibilities,” Hinde said.

His teammates notice his attitude, and they build off of Hinde’s confidence on the pitch.

“It’s all about his mentality; he’s just hungry,” Pett said. “He wants to improve, to succeed, to score when we need it. He has desire and hunger that some other players don’t have.”

For Da Costa, the biggest example of that type of hunger that Hinde’s teammates rave about is easy to see.

“You always refer to the middle of the field as the ‘engine room,’ and you need guys in there who can physically and mentally put the work in,” Da Costa said. “He has to be the hardest working player for us to succeed. Thus far he’s been first-class, our most dependable player.”

Hinde came to Quinnipiac through connections to Da Costa. Pat McCann, a former University of Hartford player, was a teammate of Da Costa’s at the professional level. As it so happens, McCann is now coaching in Australia for the club team Hinde played on growing up.

McCann recommended Hinde to Da Costa, and the rest unfolded in a perfect manner.

“Out of all the coaches I spoke to when I visited, he was just miles ahead,” Hinde said of Da Costa. “He made me feel like the university was right for me, and he really wanted me. Once I met the boys on the team, they made me feel like I was right at home here at Quinnipiac.”

Da Costa remembers the days he visited two years ago very distinctly.

“He fell in love with the campus and the people when he visited, and we were fortunate to get him here,” Da Costa said. “I was very happy when I learned he would enroll here, and the end result speaks for itself.”

That moment was the beginning of a rare player-coach relationship, that later evolved into what is a true friendship between Da Costa and Hinde.

“I try to have an open door with my players,” Da Costa said. “Simon comes up often and just hangs out in the office, and we talk about other things than futbol. He’s obviously my captain, and one of my players, but I consider him a friend, too.”

To put it simply, Da Costa says Hinde passes the best measurement of a true friendship: conversation

“He’s someone you can just talk to and have a great time,” Da Costa said. “I love hanging out with him.”