L'Hostis grew into leadership role for champs
June 3, 2016
It’s hard to stand out on a soccer team with as much talent as the International School of Brussels Raiders.
Hard, but not impossible.
Matthieu L’Hostis made a noticeable difference for the Raiders throughout their run to the DODEA-Europe Division I boys soccer championship. The junior, an experienced veteran on a team devoid of seniors, guided ISB back to the DODEA-Europe title game, and this time to a victory.
Now he has also won the 2016 Stars and Stripes boys soccer Athlete of the Year award. As it has for his team as a whole, this spring has represented the full realization of L’Hostis’ talents.
“I grew more as a captain, because I wasn’t really a leader on the pitch before,” L’Hostis said. “I learned how to speak to my teammates, how to help them.”
L’Hostis delivered his crowning achievement May 21 as his goal held up as the game-winner in a 2-1 defeat of Lakenheath in the DODEA-Europe Division I championship game. But that was just the most obvious of his vast contributions to ISB’s success.
As a whole, the Raiders were undersized and physically overmatched by many of their DODEA-Europe opponents. L’Hostis willingly accepted the challenge of competing for valuable, hard-earned space in front of the net, and his team was all the better for it.
“I try to implement my physicality in the middle as much as I can to distribute along the wings,” L’Hostis said. “Because that’s where most of our impact players are.”
Sometimes the ball found its way back to L’Hostis, as it did for the decisive score against Lakenheath. Just as often it found a different route to the back of the net. Either path was fine with L’Hostis.
“I honestly have no intention of doing everything by myself,” he said.
In fact, L’Hostis took particular pride in the play of his younger teammates, as it was a validation of his own developing abilities as a leader. Though he’s been a part of ISB for many years and is an accomplished student-athlete, the role didn’t come naturally to him.
“I’m not a very vocal player, so I try to lead by example, I’d say,” L’Hostis said.
That example eventually produced arguably the highest level of play achieved by any team in DODEA-Europe this spring. After a challenging regular season, one which ended with a 3-1 loss to Ramstein in a rematch of the Royals’ win in the 2015 European title game, the Raiders reached their peak at the tournament.
“When we came into tournament mode we changed gears and started playing our football,” L’Hostis said. “Everything was clicking and everything was working together and in our favor.”
The championship, delivered suitably by L’Hostis himself, was the ultimate endorsement of his talent and leadership. Even if he was still reluctant to accept the outsized accolades.
“Teamwork was essential,” L’Hostis said. “We’re all friends.”