For years, Tulio and Lucas Canineu were integral parts of the Corbin boys soccer program. During their time at CHS the brothers helped the Redhounds compile an overall record of 58 wins, 34 losses and six ties. When they were playing together during the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons Corbin won three straight 13th Region championships. They were also 49th District champions in 2013 and 2014.
The Canineus were both prolific scorers for the Hounds. They could take over a game in a moment’s notice, and they could just as effectively orchestrate situations where other teammates would be given opportunities to score goals as well. Whenever the ball touched their feet, chances were good that something special was about to happen.
Lucas and Tulio mostly gained notoriety due to their impressive ability to score with the ball, or assist others in scoring, but they also shined on defense. Possessing an internal drive to be the best in all facets of the game, these brothers displayed a work ethic that was second to none. From the time they stepped onto the pitch until the final whistle blew, they were tenacious in their efforts to possess the ball. Rarely could opponents match them in fitness or technique, so whether they were trying to take or maintain possession, the guys in the other jerseys knew that they were going to have their work cut out for them.
It came as no surprise when these two gifted players made their way up to the college ranks, both of them signing to play for their father in Pennsylvania as members of the Saint Francis University Red Flash, an NCAA Division I program. Tulio signed his letter of intent after his senior season at Corbin in 2014, redshirting so that he could begin his playing career at the same time as his younger brother a year later.
Now both Canineus are on the field, together again and giving opposing squads fits. They’ve traded in their Redhound uniforms for ones that say Red Flash, but what you see on game day is more of the same – Lucas and Tulio doing all that they can to help their team win.
This dynamic duo recently made their way back to Corbin, coming to town to visit with old friends and teammates during Corbin soccer’s homecoming game this past Saturday evening. It was during this game, which the Redhounds unfortunately lost 2-1 to Lincoln County, that the brothers took a few moments to talk about what life has been like since joining the college ranks.
“My first year I was a redshirt,” Tulio said. “That meant that I was allowed to practice with the team and participate in all activities, but I just wasn’t allowed to play. That helped prepare me, and got me used to the level of play in college. I got to see how fast-paced the game is, and how much stronger and more technical it is. I feel like I was much more prepared to play this year.”
That extra preparation has obviously paid off for Tulio, as he was able to score his first collegiate goal on Wednesday, September 21 in a 3-0 win against visiting Bucknell. “It has been excellent, and a lot of fun,” he said of his experience playing at SFU so far. “I am coming off the bench, but I always try my best to do my part and give the team a lift if some of the other players are tired.”
“Things are going great for the team,” Tulio continued. “The atmosphere is really good. Our record is 6-3, but you can’t really judge us by our record right now because what’s going to have a real effect is how we do in the Northeast Conference tournament later this year. If we win an NEC championship, that will qualify us for the NCAA tournament, and that would be a dream come true.”
Lucas did not have the luxury of having an additional year to get himself acclimated to the college world. He admitted that it was a tough transition at first, but by now he feels like he is right at home. “I was really nervous at first,” he said. “I had no idea what to expect, but when I got there Tulio really helped me to get situated with the team socially. Practices in the beginning were really tough. The transition was hard, but after the first week I started getting into the flow.”
When asked to compare playing in high school versus playing in college, Lucas said, “One of the biggest differences that I’ve noticed is you have to focus every single minute. You can’t take even a moment off. Defensively or offensively, you always have to be zoned in and focused. If you mess up, you’re going to cost your team if you don’t come back and defend.”
“The second biggest thing is the physicality,” Lucas added. “You really don’t get any time to rest and take your mind off of the game. You always have to be running, making sure you’re doing your part. You have to be fit enough to play the entire game. This summer I worked a lot on fitness. I though I was in great shape, but… no.”
Both Lucas and Tulio have experienced minor setbacks this season, with Tulio being forced out of action earlier this season with a concussion, and Lucas missing some time recently with a hip injury. They are both back to full speed now, however, and are looking to help the Red Flash have a strong showing in conference play, which begins in just a few days’ time.
Off the field, Tulio is currently pursuing a degree in business administration at SFU. Lucas is studying biology as part of a pre-med program. They both agree that being a student-athlete at the collegiate level requires a lot of hard work, focus and dedication, but they also know that their efforts will pay off for them in the long run.
The Canineu brothers’ coach at Corbin, Armando Cima, said of his young protégés, “I’ve got to see them play in a couple of games. I am very, very happy for them. They seem to be doing well, and having the time of their lives. They are both good models for the rest of our kids. It’s a tradition here to play at the next level. Soccer is a lifelong activity, and our kids typically continue to play. It’s great that they’re getting to stay in a competitive environment, and I hope that they are enjoying it.”
In closing, Lucas said, “I want to say ‘thank you’ to the Corbin community. You were all truly a blessing to us. I love every single person that came out and showed the support for us. My teammates are like my family, and I love every single one of them as well. Coach Cima is like my second dad. I love him so much, and I always will.”
As for Tulio, his final words were, “Living here and having our whole family living in Brazil, we had to find another family. We found it here, so I just want to say ‘thank you’ to everyone in Corbin that was here to help us. Through the highs and the lows you were all there, and I just want to say ‘thank you’ from the bottom of my heart.”
To keep track of Lucas, Tulio and the rest of the Red Flash men’s soccer team for the remainder of the 2016 season, look them up online at sfuathletics.com.