Tamburini turning heads at PHCC

October 1, 2015

By CARA COOPER Bulletin Sports Writer

On September 12, Elias Tamburini scored four goals in a game for Patrick Henry Community College’s soccer team.

Tamburini called the game a “turning point” in his season.

“That was the moment I started scoring goals in all the games that followed,” he said.

Since then, Tamburini has exploded offensively, scoring 10 goals with four assists in the team’s last five games, including another hat trick on September 26 against USC Lancaster. The offensive prowess propelled Tamburini to being named NJCAA National Player of the Week.

Tamburini, a sophomore, came to Patrick Henry in January after transferring from Our Lady of the Lake University in Texas. Prior to coming to the States, the Finland native played on the U16, U18 and U19 Finnish Nationals teams. In the fall he’ll become a Hokie as his playing career will continue at Virginia Tech.

So far this season, Tamburini has 17 goals, 41 points and 62 shots, all of which are the most in Region X.

Patriots head coach Enda Crehan said that Tamburini has become the “go-to guy” on his team.

“He’s an offensive presence,” Crehan said. “Anytime you can get a guy like Elias who has represented his country at the youth level, that alone means he’s got the quality and the ability to impact the team so for us that’s a great thing.”

Crehan said his squad is starting to make a habit of having successful Finnish-born players. Sami Tiitanen played for the Patriots last year and is now playing for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Freshman Juuso Heinonen and sophomore Osman O’Sillah also hail from Finland.

The Patriots’ roster features eight European players, and Tamburini’s roommates are all international, which Tamburini said helped make his transition to Virginia much easier.

“I like to get to know the Irish and English guys and learn their culture,” Tamburini said. “In my house we have Ireland and New Zealand and England and different countries so we get to know what their country is like.”

The good thing about Virginia is that, Tamburini said, even though the preseason was hotter than he was used to, as the season goes on the weather has started to become more like back home.

As far as soccer goes, Tamburini said the transition to playing in the U.S. wasn’t a difficult one.

“It’s more physical there (Finland). They play a little bit quicker,” he said. “It’s a different playing style. Here we boot the ball a little bit more and we play long ball… I was here in the spring and I got to know some of the players then and I know pretty much how everybody plays. We have a lot of technical players so it makes my game easier too.”

Crehan said that having a good foreign student base has helped all of his players both on and off the field.

“It’s almost an education in itself, living and learning with different people and getting along with them,” Crehan said. “That’s the ultimate thing that they may not realize now until they maybe go to a job interview. Maybe they try to work internationally that may help them that they played on teams with so many internationals and they’re able to get along and work with people from different worlds, different cultures.”

Even while balancing between soccer and school, Tamburini has maintained a 3.8 grade point average, all while taking classes taught in his third language.

“I want to be competitive in everything. In school, in soccer. Everything,” Tamburini said.

He is still undecided what he will major in at Virginia Tech next year.

For Tamburini to be a success both on and off the field, Crehan said it proves that Patrick Henry can be a good stepping stone for him and other international players.

“The Finnish players, they train hard, they’re good students so I think he’s a good role model too for other players,” Crehan said. “Every team has a kid that gets awards so people look up to these kind of things so definitely it’s a great thing for our program to have these kids come in and I think P.H. is a great stepping stone for these kids from Europe or anywhere around the world because ultimately, like Elias said, you come in and you don’t really know what you want to study yet so we’re here to kind of fill that gap.”

The Patriots have four regular season games remaining before heading into the Region X tournament. Tamburini already has plans for beyond that, though.

“I want our team to go to nationals and I want to continue to score goals to help the team achieve that goal,” he said. “And I want to play at Nationals here at Smith River Sports Complex. That would be a good sendoff for me from PH before I leave.”

Filed under: Men's Soccer