Trinity Western men’s soccer team suffered a “heart-breaking” loss in the Canada West Gold Medal Match, giving up a two-goal second-half lead before losing 3-2 in overtime against UBC Saturday at Thunderbird Stadium.
The Spartans Vito Poletto (Calgary) and Leighton Johnson (Strathmore, Alta.) scored in the 45th and 59th minutes to seemingly put TWU on the path to their first Canada West title in a decade. However, the tides changed when UBC’s Victory Shumbusho scored in the 69th minute.
With the T-Birds sensing a comeback was on the docket, Connor Guilherme tied the game in the 80th minute to force the Spartans to play an overtime session for the second night in a row.
Then, in the extra frame Guilherme tallied the game-winning header in the 98th minute that captured the title of champion for the Thunderbirds and sent UBC to the national championship tournament.
The Spartans were forced to settle for a season-ending silver medal. However, the silver medal is the Spartans highest Canada West finish since also finishing second in 2008.
TWU pushed forward early on as UBC attempted to figure them out, but that changed quickly as the T-Birds then began to attack. As the game continued to play on, each team looked like they could take a lead at any moment.
Trinity Western got on the board first, using its last chance of the first half go ahead 1-0. Johnson’s corner kick found its way to Poletto, who took no time in firing a shot that deflected off UBC players and past Chad Bush for the first goal of the game.
Entering the second half with the lead the Spartans looked to play a much more defensive game, but the offense came alive yet again.
The Spartans shored up their lead with a second goal in the 59th minute. This time Johnson was the one scoring as he placed the ball past Bush, off the inside of the post and into the net. Poletto got the assist as TWU took a 2-0 lead.
With their backs against the wall ,the Thunderbirds pushed forward. Inside the Spartans box Shumbusho let off a shot that found its way past TWU first-year goalkeeper Sebastian Colyn to cut the lead by one. Kyle Sohi was awarded the assist as the score sat 2-1 in the 69th minute.
In the 80th minute, Kerman Pannu came up the left side and placed a perfect cross into the box, finding the head of a wide open Guilherme. The center back smashed the ball in for the equalizer.
In the 98th minute the defender rose above the Spartans defense to get his head on a Sohi corner kick. Guiding the ball down and into the bottom left of the net.
Bush’s heroic save in the 103rd minute off a shot by Caleb Johnson (Strathmore, Alta.) may have very well secured the win for UBC as it was the Spartans last decent chance to equalize.
On the women’s soccer front – victory
Trinity Western women’s soccer team are the Canada West champions for the seventh time in program history, as the Spartans beat Victoria 2-1 in the gold medal match Saturday at TWU’s Chase office field.
TWU centre-back Brooklyn Tidder (White Rock) scored in the 53rd minute, pouncing on a rebound and potting her first of the post-season to put the Spartans up 2-0 and tally would prove to be the game-winning goal.
A 71st minute goal by Victoria’s Georgia Bignold cut the Spartans lead in half, but TWU didn’t allow the Vikes much in the way of quality chances down the stretch, holding on for the win.
Spartans rookie Kathryn Harvey (Coquitlam) opened the scoring in the third minute.
The win puts the Spartans back on top of the Canada West conference after losing in the championship bout in each of the last two years. The last time TWU won the conference banner was in 2014.
The Spartans will now prepare for the U SPORTS Championship at the University of Manitoba Nov. 9-12. TWU will open the championship tournament Nov. 9 against the host Bisons at 4 p.m. (PT).
TWU got on the scoreboard early with Harvey converting in the third minute. Taking a low pass from Rachel Hutchinson (Cloverdale) in the box, Harvey knocked it in on the short side, past Vikes goalie Puck Louwes.
From there, the Spartans went out on outshoot the Vikes 5-2 through the first 45 minutes.
Early in the second half, the Spartans pushed their lead to 2-0 when Tidder converted a rebound after a TWU free kick.
The Vikes eventually struck back in the 71st minute, with Bignold heading home a Stephanie Badilla Gutierrez free kick to make it a one-goal game.
While Victoria looked for the equalizer, the Spartans did well to keep the Vikes away from the TWU net, said head coach Graham Roxburgh.
It wasn’t until stoppage time when the visitors managed to generate another next shot. A shot by Victoria’s Brea Christie flew wide right just beyond 90 minutes and that was as close as the Vikes would get.
“It’s good to be back as (Canada West) champions,” Roxburgh said.
“Obviously we’ve had many finals over the last 10 years and each one of them has a different story. I didn’t think we were at our best tonight. We said we were going to struggle through it. We used a lot of energy last night to beat UBC. I was really pleased with our start and then we kind of had to gut it out towards the end of the first half. I thought we had a little more life in the second half. I can’t say enough about people like Brooklyn and Liz (Hicks, Langley). Our back four defended so well. Brooklyn scoring that winner was awesome. She deserves it and the whole team deserves this.”
They now move on to the U SPORTS championships.
Roxburgh said his team will be taking it one game at a time.
“There are great teams that are going to be there. We get Manitoba in the first round so that will be tricky because they’re the hosts and it’s their home venue. When you get to nationals, you take it one game at a time. We’ll be ready and we’re excited but we need to heal up a little bit,” he said.
The Spartans are now 7-5 all-time in Canada West championship finals, having played in 12 gold medal matches in the 17 years since the TWU women’s soccer program joined U SPORTS.
Of note, TWU has played in seven straight Canada West finals, winning four and losing three, and have contested nine of the last 10 Canada West gold medal games. TWU now has 13 Canada West medals, including seven gold, five silver and one bronze.
Spartans rally in third period to beat Vancouver Island
Trinity Western scored two goals in the final five minutes of the third period to rally for a 4-3 win over Vancouver Island University Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
Down 3-2 in the waning stages of the final frame, Jordan Rendle (Surrey) evened the scoreline on a power play at 15:10 before Brayden Brown (Calgary) scored the game-winner with just under four minutes to play.
Florian Niedermaier Switzerland) and Jarrett Fontaine (Humboldt, Sask.) also scored the Spartans, while Brandon Potomak (Aldergrove) had two assists.
Garrett Dunlop, Kobe Oishi and Curtis McCarrick scored for the Mariners, who held a 3-2 lead through 40 minutes.
TWU goalie Silas Matthys (Switzerland) made 36 saves for the win, while VIU’s Carson Schamerhorn stopped 38 of the 42 shots he faced.
The Spartans special teams played a crucial role in the win, as TWU, who improved to 5-2 on the season, finished with three power play goals. VIU dropped to 2-4 on the year.
Niedermaier opened the scoring at 11:38 of the first period on the power play, only to see Dunlop tie the game with a shorthanded tally less than two minutes later.
However, only 1:02 after Dunlop’s equalizer, Fontaine put TWU ahead with the Spartans second power play goal of the opening period.
Before the period was out Oishi evened the game with a power play goal for the Mariners.
Less than three minutes into the second period McCarrick put VIU up 3-2.
That eventually set the stage for the Spartans comeback heroics, said head coach Barret Kropf.
“We invested a lot of time this week in practice on our special teams. I felt that coming into this week, our power play wasn’t where it needed to be at. We dedicated a lot of time to it in practice and I think the guys felt a lot more comfortable with some of our systems and found some chemistry,” Kropf said.
“I think teams can skate with us for 40 or 50 minutes, but there’s a few games where we’ve been able to play a full 60 minutes and just wear teams down. I think that’s what you saw tonight. There were some good battles but at the end of the night we made the most of our opportunities.”
Next up, the Spartans are on the road next weekend as they travel to play Selkirk Nov. 10 and Eastern Washington on Nov. 11.
Women win, men lose on basketball court
Trinity Western men’s basketball team had a tough second quarter as the team dropped its home opener 87-65 to the UNBC Timberwolves Friday night at the Langley Events Centre.
The loss drops the Spartans to 0-3, while the win moves the Timberwolves to 1-2.
Max Viitalla with 16 points,10 rebounds, Pogos Trunyan with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and Vartan Tanielian with 11 points led the Spartans, while James Agyeman with 18 points, Marcus MacKay with 17 points and Anthony Hokanson with 10 points led the Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves broke the game open in the second quarter with a 25-11 advantage to lead the Spartans 47-26 at the half. In the second half the teams were even with UNBC having a 40-39 advantage, said TWU’s head coach Aaron Muhic.
“I liked how we started the game on offence and we had a couple of guys with good offensive nights. But we did not do very well getting to the free throw line or hitting our shots when we got there,” Muhic said.
In the meantime, the women are enjoying a three-game winning streak, sweeping the Timberwolves 61-54 on Saturday.
On the court, Spartans used a 14-point run in the fourth quarter to defeat the University of Northern British Columbia 61-54 Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre. The weekend sweep improves the Spartans to 3-1 on the season, while the loss drops the Timberwolves to 0-4.
Tessa Ratzlaff with 18 points and 12 rebounds, Jessie Brown with 17 points and five rebounds, and Sarah Buckingham with 11 points and nine rebounds led the Spartans. Maria Mongomo with 10 points and 10 rebounds, Vasiliki Louka with 14 points and eight rebounds, and Madison Landry with 12 points led the Timberwolves.
The Spartans, who trailed 34-30 after the first half, had a solid third quarter to tie the game at 44-44 to enter the final frame. UNBC regained the advantage and took a 54-47 lead with 4:25 minutes remaining.
But from there, it was all TWU as the Spartans outscored UNBC 14-0 down the stretch to earn the seven-point victory, said head coach Cheryl Jean-Paul.
“What a battle – tonight presented a challenge for us to overcome,” she said.
“Missed opportunities in some of the easy looks prevented us from breaking out earlier in the game but I thought we showed composure and maturity in the last three minutes. Sometimes the wins will be tougher than you want them to be, but I thought we had some key rebounds at the end that created the tempo we weren’t finding earlier in the game,” the coach added.
“To be able to get two games against another tough Canada West opponent is something that won’t be easy this season and I think we can continue to build on what every game has been teaching us.”
The Spartans women’s basketball team will host the University of Victoria Vikes for a weekend double-header on Friday, Nov. 10 and Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Langley Events Centre.