Back in March of 2014, Alan Alderson knew he had received a commitment from an ultra-talented player. Alderson, coach of the UNBC Timberwolves men's soccer team at the time, had secured the services of midfielder Francesco Bartolillo and fully expected the Calgary teenager to become a cornerstone of the UNBC program.
Bartolillo is now into his fifth season of proving Alderson right. And, this past Sunday, he became the all-time leading goal-scorer in the history of UNBC men's soccer.
During a 3-0 win in Saskatoon against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, Bartolillo's second goal of the contest stood as the 13th of his UNBC career, a number that placed him one ahead of former teammate Tofa Fakunle.
Bartolillo said he's honoured to be at the top of the list but also gave a nod of thanks to the man he supplanted in the school record book.
"Tofa, who is my best friend, is a fantastic player and played a huge role in paving the way for what this program has become," Bartolillo said. "Plus, he actually assisted a handful of my goals during our time here. It (the record) is definitely something really cool to experience."
Fakunle also hails from Calgary and graduated from the UNBC program at the end of last season.
On Bartolillo's record-setting goal, he pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area - the result of some great work by veteran teammate Josh McAvoy - and beat Saskatchewan goalkeeper Greg Buckley with a well-placed strike.
"It is always something exciting to get your name in the record books and it's an accomplishment to be proud of," Bartolillo said. "But, the reality is in a team sport like soccer, individual accolades like this are highly influenced by your teammates. I'm very fortunate that during my time as a Timberwolf, I have been surrounded by fantastic players who have helped make it possible. This is as much a team accomplishment as it is an individual one, because without them it simply wouldn't be possible."
With the Canada West season still in its early stages, the Timberwolves have a 1-1-2 record, good for fourth place in the Pacific Division. At the end of the regular schedule, the top four clubs in the Pacific and Prairie divisions will advance to playoffs.
The next test for Bartolillo and the T-wolves comes on Friday (6 p.m.) at Masich Place Stadium when they take on the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, who are winless in their first six games (0-5-1). Then, on Sunday at noon, UNBC will clash with the University of Calgary Dinos (2-4).
Friday's night's game will also mark the official opening of the newly-renovated stadium, which reopened in August after $4.8 million worth of upgrades.
Meanwhile, the UNBC women's soccer team will visit the Abbotsford-based University of the Fraser Valley Cascades on Friday and will play the Trinity Western University Spartans of Langley on Saturday. The Timberwolves, sixth in the eight-team Pacific Division, take a 1-1-2 record into the weekend. The Cascades (0-2-2) are in last place but have earned ties in their past two outings while the Spartans lead the Pacific with a 4-0-0 record.