The CNMI’s Thaiphi Austria suited up for his first match in the collegiate ranks after playing for Trine University in an exhibition game against Huntington University last Monday.
Austria, a many-time national team member, made it to the Thunder’s starting unit and the Angola, Indiana-based school eked out a 3-2 win over the Foresters.
“It feels great to be able to start for my first collegiate game. The competition here compared to the league back home is very different. After my first match, I am excited for the upcoming games,” said Austria, who plays outside back, but his coaches put him on the left in the majority of the match.
The 19-year-old athlete said that matches this semester will all be exhibition and training games due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the conference competition will start next semester. Trine University is an NCAA Division III school and plays in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Austria is bracing for more challenges in the upcoming games and will be using this semester to get use to the high-level of competition in the collegiate ranks and work on improving his skills and developing chemistry with his new teammates
“They play at a faster pace and they are more physical. I really need to get stronger and faster so I can play better in every match. These friendly matches will help us prepare for the conference,” Austria said.
The Commonwealth player is with Trine University’s junior varsity squad and received an athletic scholarship from the Thunder. Before heading to Indiana, he donned the CNMI colors in the 2018 and 2019 Marianas Cup and the Asian Football Confederation U19 Championship 2020 Qualifiers in Cambodia last year. In the club level, Austria played for TanHoldings Football Club.
Meanwhile, Trine’s men team also won its first game of the season after blanking Grace Christian University, 5-0, last Tuesday at the Velting Field in Wyoming Michigan.
Five different players delivered goals for the Thunder with Kaliel Alisaid drawing first blood and Trevor Towghi also scoring in the first half. Tyler Murphy, Colin Nicoski, and Alhasan Yahya made it to the board in the second half to complete Trine’s domination of Grace Christian.