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SFU brothers bind soccer success

They’re not twins and they don’t really follow hockey, so any comparison to the Sedin twins pretty much falls flat with Simon Fraser University’s Polisi brothers, Marcello and Matteo.
Polisi bros
Simon Fraser University’s Marcello, at left, and Matteo Polisi are making an impact with the Burnaby university. It’s also the first time they’ve played together since they were 13 years old.

They’re not twins and they don’t really follow hockey, so any comparison to the Sedin twins pretty much falls flat with Simon Fraser University’s Polisi brothers, Marcello and Matteo.

But the way they’re firing the offence for SFU’s men’s soccer team, it’s hard not to evoke the Vancouver Canucks’ superstar siblings.

In fact, in their first game together for the Clan, Matteo scored twice and Marcello had another in an 8-0 win over Mary University. Against the St. Martin’s Saints last Saturday, Matteo scored the game’s first two goals, while Marcello delivered a stifling performance at midfield in SFU’s 5-1 win.

That’s kind of always the way it’s been for the Polisi brothers since they were little, following in the cleat steps of their older brother Luigi, who played for provincial teams and had a stint with the UBC Thunderbirds. Marcello, the defensive-minded midfielder, feeding passes to Matteo, an attacking midfielder with a knack for finishing.

Only a year apart in age — Marcello is older — the brothers played together through their early years of minor soccer in the Coquitlam Metro-Ford system.

It’s only when they hit high school where their paths diverged. Matteo spent several seasons in the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers’ residency programs while Marcello stayed closer to home, helping the Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils win a AAA high school provincial championship in 2015.

But with a bond forged by years of working out together, kicking the ball around in playgrounds and their backyard, and soccer conversations around the family dinner table, it’s like Marcello and Matteo had never been apart when they reunited in a development league this past summer.

“Whenever I get the ball, my first look is to find Matteo,” Marcello said.

“I know what types of passes he likes to play,” Matteo said. “I know to find the areas where he likes to kick the ball.”

That kind of brotherly instinct made the Polisi brothers a prized catch for SFU coach Clint Schneider, who spent considerable time and energy wooing them to his program.

“When you have good players, lots of teams are interested in them,” Schneider said.

Marcello was the first Polisi to ascend Burnaby mountain, but his freshman season was washed out by an injury. So being able to line up alongside his younger brother is like a fresh start.

“It was pretty cool,” he said. “We complement each other for sure. It’s just really automatic.”

Having his older brother to lead the way has helped Matteo adjust to university soccer. And life, as the Polisis also tend to hang out together away from the pitch as well.

“It helps me to get to know the guys,” Matteo said.

The soccer part has looked easy, as the younger sibling sits with a team-leading five goals in six games.

Schneider said the family atmosphere he tries to build for his team is helped when he’s got brothers in the dressing room. And the Polisis aren’t the only SFU siblings there, as he’s also got the Jones brothers, Adam and Kyle.

“You want players who all care about each other,” Schneider said. “When you have that culture, there’s endless possibilities.”

The primary one this year for the Clan is to achieve the national title that eluded the team last year when they were upset by Cal Poly Pomona in the second round of the NCAA playoffs.

With five wins and a tie to start the season, SFU has already risen up the national rankings from 13th to third, and now No. 2 overall.

Coupled with the chemistry that the Polisis and Jones bring to the pitch, Schneider said the next step is attainable.
“At the end of the day, there’s only so much I can do to prepare a team,” Schneider said. “It’s a player’s game and they decide whether it’s a positive result or a negative result.”

For the Polisi brothers, negative is not an option.

“You can always count on one another to bring you up and get you going,” Marcello said.

SFU, who visit California State for a game tomorrow (Saturday), returns home to host Northwest Nazarene on Thursday, 7 p.m. at Terry Fox field.